GROUP: Stylistically, the cellaret is related to a group of guttae-footed tables produced in Petersburg in the 1760s and 1770s (Prown, “A Cultural Analysis of Furniture-Making in Petersburg, Virginia, 1760-1820” JESDA, May 1992, 14-16). This object differs from that group in that its guttae feet are turned, rather than shaped and carved. The lightwood stringing on the case connects it to a small group of tables and another cellaret in the Petersburg Lightwood Cockbead Group (see MESDA Research Center file). In fact, the Parsons family cellaret may be the earliest known piece in this group.
Petersburg served as the major market center for a large region that stretched south past the North Carolina line. Families like the one this cellaret descended in maintained close ties within the larger region. Petersburg cabinetmakers had an impact on the region as well. The light wood inlay on the cellaret’s top and front edges is similar to the treatment seen on later cellarets attributed to Micajah Wilkes (d.1842) that were made in Halifax and Bertie counties of North Carolina (Newbern and Melchor, “WH Cabinetmaker: A Southern Mystery Solved”, Legacy Ink Publishing, 2009, 241-270).
Research conducted by Dale Hauck during the 2010 MESDA Summer Institute suggests that this cellaret was made in Petersburg, Virginia. The attribution is based on both genealogical and stylistic evidence.
For details of the Weldon-Smith-Busbee family and its relationship to the Parsons, Thweatt, Peterson and Cocke families of Prince George County, Virginia, see Claiborne Thweatt Smith, Jr., “Smith of Scotland Neck,” Gateway Press, 1976).