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Cooper, Peter __Attributed to
Place Made:
Georgetown South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany –mahogany veneer –light wood inlay –yellow pine –poplar
HOA: 38 1/4″; WOA: 72 5/8″; DOA: 30″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Oblong sideboard: Shaped, built-up top conforming to a body containing concave shaped cellaret drawers surmounted by shallow drawers at each end; a center straight drawer surmounting a recessed double cupboard in the center; drawers and doors decorated with a rectanglular panel enclosing fans and a central oval panel, the central upper drawer being divided into two panels by a central sunburst of inlay; case supported on six tapered legs which are decorated with rectangular and oval panels in the body and bell flowers on the legs, banded around the feet.

STYLE: Similar inlay patterns appear in furniture of Baltimore, but those, as a rule, attain greater emphasis and sophistication by the use of one wood within the panel and another without, frequently mitering the outer veneer at the four corners and, if there are several panels, by matching the veneers of the panels. MESDA’s example is typical of South Carolina in that the panels are part of the overall front and there is no attempt to match veneers. The husk or bell flowers on the legs are a type common to the Carolinas. Note that the three petal tips form a straight line. While not always in a straight line, they seldom vary far from the line and the husk is usually made from one piece.

GROUP: The sideboard is one of three recorded as having a coastal South Carolina rather than a Charleston provenance. All three resemble each other slightly in the manner of drawer construction and inlay design, but this example is the only one with ovolo shaped ends. (RAES)

MAKER: This sideboard is attributed to Peter Cooper (1783-1812), a cabinetmaker who trained in Charleston with Alexander Calder (1772-1849). The son of Mary Cooper, Peter entered the Charleston Orphan House in 1792 at the age of nine and was apprenticed to Calder six years later when Cooper was approximately 15 years old. At one point, he apparently “absconded,” but a cabinetmaker of the same name emerged in Georgetown. Peter Cooper died in Georgetown in 1812, leaving behind a wife and child “to lament his loss.” The sideboard is attributed to Cooper because he is the only known cabinetmaker to have been trained in Charleston but later worked in Georgetown, and the sideboard has numerous similarities to sideboards made in Charleston. Cooper’s master, Alexander Calder, frequently advertised in Charleston newspapers his “Elegant Sideboards” and “fashionable CABINET WORK, such as straight and commode Side-Boards.”

This elaborately inlaid sideboard was originally owned by Benjamin Allston (1768-1809) of Brookgreen and Matanzas plantations, located on the Waccamaw River near Georgetown. Allston married his cousin Charlotte Allston (1771-1824), and the sideboard descended to their son Robert Francis Withers Allston (1801-1864), who became one of the state’s largest antebellum rice planters and the 64th governor of South Carolina.
Credit Line:
Purchase Fund