STYLE: The oval panel, usually thought of as a Baltimore characteristic, was also used extensively in Charleston. Baltimore work usually has a panel of one grained veneer while its frame would have been contrasting grains mitered at the corners.
WOODS: Mahogany and mahogany veneer with holly and ebony inlay, yellow pine secondary wood. Yellow pine laminated box sides, with white pine bottom.
MAKER: This sewing table could possibly be a product from the shop of Charleston cabinetmaker Robert Walker. This attribution is based on its inlay decoration that compares favorably to Walker’s other work coupled with the Scottish origins of both Walker and the McGillivray family.
Walker’s copy of THE LONDON BOOK OF PRICES (MESDA Acc. 4297) is endorsed to indicate he was in Cupar, Scotland (across from Edinburgh) in 1791-1793; he was in New York from October 1793-November 1795. The MESDA files place Walker in NYC by October 1793 and in Charleston by October or November 1795. Walker became a citizen of the United States in 1799. He is first listed as a cabinetmaker at 57 Broad Street in 1801; he was at 39 Church Street the same year. Also in that year he was admitted into the St. Andrews Society. In 1810 he was listed at 19 Elliott Street and at 53 Church Street from 1812, the year he married Margaret Murdoch. He was, for a time, partners with Charles Watts.
Among his most interesting advertisements, one in 1805 lists “Ladies Work” tables; one in 1810 lists (among materials for sale) “Mahogany boards, Plank Veneers, Sattin Wood, Holly, best Dublin Glue….” Walker sold various woods, cabinet hardware, etc. throughout his life in Charleston.
For another object with a McGillivray and Geyer family history, see the Charleston card table (Acc. 3266).