DESIGN: The backs of the chairs are adapted from Plate XIII of the first two editions (1754 and 1755) of Thomas Chippendale’s THE GENTLEMAN AND CABINETMAKER’S DIRECTOR.
CONSTRUCTION: Unusual construction details include long open mortises under the seat rails, cut to receive tenons on the pierced spandrels; the spandrels are glued to the front legs. The center stretchers are mortised through the side stretchers in a manner observed on chairs of the Cape Fear region of North Carolina; a similar detail has been seen on Virginia chairs, but the Virginia examples have a different tenon form.
MAKER: The British-born cabinetmaker Samuel Black (d. 1783) first appeared in Edenton tax records in 1759. He later married Frances Glass, had two daughters, Elizabeth and Dorothy, and established a prominent cabinet shop enjoying the patronage of many of Edenton’s leading citizens, such as Samuel Johnston of nearby Hayes Plantation. At the time of his death, he owned extensive cabinetmaking tools and equipment.