Updates to our PDFs are Not Nefarious

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When we make small corrections to our books with each printing, we also update the pdfs in our store so that everything matches. We also send out a link to the new pdf to all the customers who have purchased the pdf, even if the purchase was five years ago.

We do this so that everyone who bought the pdf has the most current version. The changes to these pdfs are minor – typos, small production issues, fixed photo credits etc. If there is a substantive error, we issue an errata on the blog.

This week we sent out pdf updates to both “Shaker Inspiration” and “The Intelligent Hand.” And we have received a ton of emails asking if these are spam, a virus, a spoof or something else evil and false.

They’re not. Clicking on the link will simply download the newest version of the pdf to your device. If you don’t want the newest version, don’t click the link.

Apologies if this is causing distress.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

The $175 Workbench Comes Home

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I wasn’t the first person to use Southern yellow pine to build a workbench in 2000. But it sure felt like it when I built the above workbench for Popular Woodworking Magazine.

At that time, almost all of the workbenches I’d read about and saw in workshops were made from European beech or white maple. And most were what we call a European bench, German bench or Ulmia-style bench.

I was making $23,000 a year at the time, and we had a 3-year-old girl, so I couldn’t afford a commercial bench or even the wood and vises (about $800 to $1,000) to build one in beech or maple.

I was desperate to make a bench. I was working on a pair of sawhorses topped with a door I had scavenged from the Coca-Cola plant where our shop was located.

One day I went to the home center to price out some plywood and spotted a gleaming pile of clear 12’ 2x8s – the same stuff we used for joists and rafters to build our houses in Hackett, Ark. My normal Pavlovian response to yellow pine was my arms turning rubber – yellow pine can be incredibly heavy, especially when it’s packed with resin.

But instead of that rubber feeling, something clicked in my head. I could make workbench out of yellow pine. Then I did some quick math: Eight 2×8 x 12’ boards would cost only $76.56. Add the hardware, a face vise (later replaced) and the Veritas Wonder Dog, and I could make the bench for $175.

Cover February_2001

The bench ended up on the cover of the February 2001 issue, and we showed it off to readers during an open house one evening. Their reaction was split down the middle. Someone called it a redneck bench. Someone else said that at least it was better than my sawhorses. But a few people asked a lot about the mechanical properties of yellow pine.

It’s amazing stuff. It’s stiff, hard (after the resin sets up) and stable. In fact it’s way more stable than beech or oak.

As a result, I’ve continued to build benches from yellow pine since 2000 with no complaint. My first Roubo (2005) and Nicholson (2006) workbenches were made from yellow pine. And I’ve built at least 25 or 30 benches from the stuff during classes or at woodworking shows. (That actually was our gimmick for a few years – we built a bench during the show and gave it away at the end of the show.)

construction-drawing

Today, the $175 Workbench came back home to me. John has had it for the last 10 years in Indianapolis. He’s moving house and won’t have room for it. So Megan Fitzpatrick and I rented a truck and brought it to the storefront.

It’s now a bench for students when they take classes here. We scooted my father’s workbench under a window, and it fits perfectly – like it was made for the spot. We now have eight workbenches in the front room of the shop, but we’re not going to expand the number of students we serve above our normal six.

Instead, the extra bench is going to be used by Brendan, Megan or me while classes are going on. We all have commissions that have to get out the door, and delaying projects by two, three or five days while a class goes on can be stressful.

So once again, the $175 Workbench saves the day.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Uncategorized, Workbenches | 51 Comments

Four Centuries of Drawer Making

1

FIG. 1. THE MID 17TH CENTURY. The sides are grooved to fit over runners fixed to the carcase.


This is an excerpt from “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years: Volume II” published by Lost Art Press. 

The construction of a drawer seems a straightforward and fairly obvious piece of work; there is an accepted way of making it which experience has proved reliable. Yet drawers were not always made in this way, and it is extremely interesting to see how woodworkers of past ages solved the problem of making and sliding them.

It was not until the 17th century that drawers in furniture were used to any extent. The chest of drawers was entirely unknown, and it is with something of astonishment that one comes to realise that through all the centuries previously men had been content to bundle out the entire contents of a chest in order to reach something at the bottom. When the idea did come, however, its advantages were quickly realised, and from the middle of the century the chest of drawers became established and has remained popular ever since.

Most early drawers were supported by the rather curious method shown in Fig. 1. A groove was worked along the side, this fitting over a runner fixed to the carcase side. It seems a little strange that the method should have been adopted because it must have meant more bother than putting runners between the drawers; furthermore the grooves rather weakened the sides. Still, they used thicker sides then than we think necessary to-day.

2

FIG. 2. SAME DATE AS ABOVE. Here the worker has used crude dovetails instead of the lapped joint.

The actual construction is really very crude. The front is rebated at ends and bottom, and the sides glued and nailed on. So also is the bottom, which fits in the rebate at the front and is merely butted beneath the sides. The entire weight of the contents is taken by the nails holding the bottom. Occasionally one comes across a piece made by a man who had ventured into the mysteries of dovetailing. In Fig. 2, for instance, is a drawer which is lap-dovetailed at the front and has a through dovetail at the back. The bottom is attached in the same way as before, but since this actually rests upon the runners there is no strain on the rails. The weakness, of course, is that as the wood wears away the nails are left in projection and so score the runners.

3

FIG. 3. SECOND HALF 17th CENTURY. The front is of deal veneered with walnut. Sides, back, and bottom are oak.

Both the foregoing examples are of oak furniture. During the second half of the century walnut gradually superseded oak, though it was mostly used in veneer form. Oak remained the chief wood for linings, however, and thus it is in the drawer in Fig. 3—the sides, back and bottom are of oak. In some instances oak was used for the groundwork of the front also, but it was soon realised that it was not the ideal wood for veneering. It was too coarse in the grain, and, owing to the presence of the medullary rays, which were harder than the rest of the wood, marks were liable to show through to the surface owing to unequal shrinkage. Consequently deal was mainly used for the fronts as in Fig. 3. Dovetails are used here, but they are of a very coarse type and run right through, a poor way of doing the job because the exposed end grain at the front offers a poor grip for the veneer. Furthermore, the joint eventually shows through at the front, owing to the front shrinking and leaving the dovetails standing up. The example is interesting, however, in that the sides as well as the front are rebated to hold the bottom.

4

FIG. 4. EARLY 18TH CENTURY. This shows the first attempt at cutting really neat dovetails.

As men’s skill increased they began to make altogether neater dovetails, and in the next example in Fig. 4, which dates from the early 18th century, an altogether more refined construction is apparent. In fact it is really the beginning of the modern way of drawer making. Note how the dovetails are lapped at the front, and how narrow the pins are between the dovetails. They run almost to a point. A rebate is still worked in the sides to hold the bottom, but the interesting point is that the maker has realised the desirability of raising the bottom slightly to prevent it from sagging and rubbing on the drawer rail. He has accomplished this by making the rebate extra deep and fitting a slip beneath. The advantage is two-fold, for, apart from raising the bottom, the slip gives a wider bearing surface and so reduces wear.

The practical reader will realise that the front is rebated to hold the bottom, this being evident from the half-dovetail cut at the bottom, the purpose of which, of course, is to conceal the rebate. At the back the bottom passes beneath the back.

Note incidentally that the grain of the bottom runs from back to front as in the previous examples.

In this particular example a cocked bead is fitted around the front, rebates being cut all round to accommodate it. As a matter of passing interest we may note that later in the century the rebate was worked at sides and bottom only. At the top the bead extended the full width so that no joint was visible. The small sketch at A, Fig. 4, shows how a slip of walnut was let into a rebate when a projecting thumb moulding was needed. The veneer at the front concealed the joint.

5

FIG. 5. SECOND HALF 18TH CENTURY. This is in mahogany and is similar to Fig. 4 but bottom is grooved in.

Fig 5 dates from the late 18th century, and here the bottom is fitted into grooves in sides and front. Otherwise the construction is similar to the previous example. We may consider here why the groove was used in place of the rebate. It has been pointed out that in previous example’s the grain of the bottom ran from back to front, and the reason for this was that, since most drawers were wider than they were deep, the grain ran across the shortest distance and was therefore stronger. This meant, however, that the bottom was most liable to split owing to the great width running across the grain. By grooving the sides and allowing the grain to run from side to side, there was no need to fix the bottom except at the back. It was thus free to shrink without being liable to split. In any case, there was less distance across the grain to shrink. To prevent any sagging in wide drawers a centre muntin of stouter stuff could be fixed. The likelihood of this being the reason for the change is shown by the fact that in nearly all drawers in which the grain of the bottom runs from back to front and is fixed rigidly the joints have opened.

6

FIG. 6. 19TH CENT. Alternative drawer slips.

There was, however, one weakness in the grooved sides. They were weakened by being cut practically half-way through, and the only bearing surface was that of the drawer side thickness. This accounts for the introduction in the early years of the 19th century of the drawer bottom slip moulding, A, Fig. 6. The side was not weakened and the bearing surface was approximately doubled. The alternative form was introduced later.

Meghan Bates

 

Posted in Charles H. Hayward at The Woodworker | 11 Comments

Rowden Atelier: Still one of the Best Woodwork Schools

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I’ve taught a lot of woodworking students of all different skill levels – from beginners to professionals – all over the world. Despite that, I was shocked and delighted by the full-time students at Rowden Atelier in Devon when I taught a tool chest class there in 2014.

Most of the Rowden students had less than a year of coursework under their belts when we ran the course, and David Savage instructed me to push them to work at a professional pace through the week.

David thought they would be accurate but a bit slow. I had no idea what to expect. When I teach a tool chest class, I usually have time to instruct, time to build the project, time to work with each student one-on-one and time for many cups of coffee or tea.

Not so at Rowden. The full-time students were monsters and nipped at my heels all week.

rowden_studio_WRPhotography_Rowden-125

It turns out the training there is even more impressive than David suspected. And after watching the students for more than two weeks, I remained deeply impressed. Not only did they have a firm grasp of joinery, machine work and hand work, they also knew how to draw, paint and do a bunch of tricky veneer and inlay stuff that’s frankly beyond me.

They had been schooled in the realities of business – all of the instructors there are hard-bitten professionals. And they had been given the opportunity to work at an extremely high level on some of David’s own designs for clients.

Had I been in my 20s, I would have dropped everything in my life and enrolled myself.

When David Savage died on Jan. 18, he had already stepped away from day-to-day management of the school and put it in the good hands of instructors he hand-picked and trained. Many of them – David admitted – were even better woodworkers than he. Daren Milman, Ed Wild and Jon Greenwood are all world-class woodworkers and instructors.

rowden_bench_room_WRPhotography_Rowden-106

“Despite (or even fuelled by) David’s recent death, his vision for teaching the next generation of cabinetmakers at Rowden continues to surge onwards,” according to Matthew Lacey at Rowden. “We knew this was coming, of course, and his presence is greatly missed by all of us. But, because of the work he did over the last 15 years setting up the group there today, day to day nothing has changed.

“The same goes for the students at Rowden, learning the craft of cabinetmaking, pushing themselves as they move through this part of their furniture-making adventure. The next generation of students are now coming through Rowden to start their cabinetmaking story, lead by David’s philosophy and guided by the team he put together to achieve this.”

rowden_environment_WRPhotography_Rowden-128

If you are considering a woodworking education, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better school than Rowden. Its roots stretch back to the English Arts & Crafts Movement, but the design aesthetic is entirely contemporary. The shop is located deep in Devon where you are surrounded by nature, high-quality machinery, beautiful bench rooms and drawing/painting studios.

Though I miss my friend, David, I am glad he left Rowden in the hands of these capable instructors. And I look forward to meeting the future generations of capable and confident  woodworkers that will come from Rowden.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. We’ve never published a single sponsored post here at Lost Art Press, and we’re not starting now. The above opinions are my own.

Posted in Personal Favorites, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Spoons, Chests & Sectors – 4 More Classes

We’ve added a few more classes for 2019, including a two-class visit from internationally known spoon carver JoJo Wood!

Click through the titles below to read more about each class. Registration will go live next Monday (Feb. 18, 2019) at 10 a.m.

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Intro to Spoon Carving with JoJo Wood – June 17
In this one-day class that’s suitable for beginning carvers, you’ll learn knife and axe skills, make a lot of woodchips and finish the day with a spoon that’s ready to use at home!

spoons

Eating Spoon Master Class with JoJo Wood – June 18-19
The perfect eating spoon should be a balance of smooth aesthetic, and function. It should feel great in both hand and mouth, carrying food comfortably without any spills. JoJo’s spoons are at the top of their game, performing exceptionally and looking beautiful. In this course she will teach her technique for bringing out the best spoon from each piece of wood, with all her tips and tricks from years of carving.

chests

Build the “Anarchist’s Tool Chest” with Megan Fitzpatrick – Aug. 19-23
If you don’t like dovetails, this is not the class for you. If you’d like to learn dovetails (while you build a sturdy chest that holds about 50 hand tools…which is to say almost all the hand tools you need to build furniture), this is absolutely the class for you – you’ll get plenty of instruction and practice.

Build the Cabinetmaker’s Sector with Brendan Gaffney – Nov. 23-24
In this two-day class, students will build their own Cabinetmaker’s Sector, Brendan Gaffney’s modernized design for the ancient geometer’s tool, used for drawing, drafting and (in his shop) the layout of dimensions and joinery on woodwork. The class will revolve around the skills of modern hand-tool makers, including careful marking and measuring, mixing metal and wood, hand shaping, finishing and (of course) how to use the tool.

We also have some slots remaining in already announced classes – so check those out, too!

And as always, if you have questions about the classes, send me an email at covingtonmechanicals@gmail.com (not the Lost Art Press help email).

— Fitz

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Experimental Chair No. 46

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Whenever I can manage it, I try to build an experimental chair alongside one of my trusted designs. It gives me a chance to use less-than-perfect wood and see how things that have germinated in my sketchbook look in real life.

This week I started two stick armchairs in walnut – one that will be for sale and a second that might be for fire.

I’m building the experimental chair using the sappier parts of a walnut slab I bought in Lexington, Ky., last month. The board was cut from a street tree, so it’s not like lumberyard walnut. My tree grew fast, out in the open and has some odd coloring and grain, which is typical for a street tree.

double-doubler-IMG_0874

The experiment with this chair is the armbow. With a traditional three-piece armbow, the “doubler” – the piece that joins the two arms – has always been a magnet for my eyes. I like the look – it’s traditional – but I’m always looking for ways to make the doubler recede into the overall design of the arm.

After chatting with Narayan Nayar about my efforts to minimize the doubler, he suggested repeating its design elsewhere on the chair. It could be added to the underside of the arm. Or the top of the chair seat. Repetition would make the doubler look more like part of a pattern than an “eye catcher.”

So after some sketching, I decided to use a “double doubler” that has 30° bevels on all edges – one on top of the arms and one on the bottom of the arms. I think I like the way it looks. But I’m going to have to finish the chair to know for sure.

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Earlier Experiments
Some experiments work so well they get adopted immediately. A couple years ago I started making my stretchers into double-tapered octagons. Making this shape is a fair amount of work with a plane and a couple cradle blocks on my workbench.

But I loved the double-tapered octagons immediately.

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Before embracing the double-taper octagon, I would turn or plane my stretchers into a round shape, usually cigar-ish or with a bulge in the middle. These rounded forms are traditional shapes, but I always thought they conflicted with the facets on the six- or eight-sided legs.

Other design ideas survive on the bench for minutes or even seconds before being chucked into the scrap pile. I try to forget about those ideas before I’m even tempted to write about them on the blog.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Anarchist's Design Book, Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Two Mechanics in Old New York

Mechanics playing cards, circa 1702, New York Public Library.

In 1788, New York City celebrated the the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, and the artisans of the city participated in one of the parades. In an article for the journal Material Culture, Thomas J. Schlereth wrote, “…the city’s shipwrights constructed floats mounted on wheels and outfitted to look like full-rigged vessels. Blacksmiths shops atop wagons carried working smiths toiling at their anvils and forge fires. Carpenters, instrument-makers, and printers demonstrated to all who lined the parade route the manual and muscular dimensions of their crafts.”*

The Carpenter on the Lower West Side

2-5 Hudson St., 1865, photo by Marcus Ormsbee, New York Historical Society.

This is a photo that makes the hearts of many woodworkers go a-flutter. Amidst the signs and the assembled men one figure stands out: the strapping carpenter with mutton-chop whiskers and wooden plane in hand framed by the open doorway on the second floor of 3 Hudson St. It looks as though he has the carpenter’s square paper hat pushed back on his head, and unlike some of the other business owners in formal suits and top hats, he wears his shop apron. When this picture-taking business is over he will get back to work.

There isn’t a tremendous amount of information about J.V. Outcalt but there are a few details, and we can get an idea of the nature of his working neighborhood.

Circa 1857, New York Public Library.

Numbers 1-5 Hudson St. are a short block, perhaps all of 165 feet, at the convergence of Hudson, Chambers and West Broadway (the 1865 photo was taken from Chambers Street looking down Hudson).

1851, Museum of the City of New York.

In the autumn of 1851, the Hudson Railroad Depot opened (on the map it is in the bottom, middle). The Girard House Hotel is the large building in the drawing. Horse-drawn traffic was heavy in this area with carts and carriages, and horses pulling arriving train carriages to the next station on the rail line. A photo from the other side of the street provides a better idea of the appearance of the area.

Dated between 1857-1860, New York Public Library.

On the other side of that nice and clean pastel drawing is our block on Hudson Street. It is easy to imagine how busy this area would have been with goods moving by carts and people moving on horse-drawn trolley cars on grade-level tracks. Let’s not think too much about the amount of manure on the street, in the summer, the heat and humidity…

Left: 1896, New York Historical Society. Right, top: 1875, Museum of the City of New York; bottom: 1865, NY Public Library.

Moving from left to right in the photo, there is Ridley’s Candy (established in 1806) on Chambers Street (second entrance faces Hudson). Next, is the five-story brick building at 1 Hudson St. occupied by wholesale druggists Harral, Risley & Kitchen. In the 1865 photo we only see a small slice of this building on the far left.

The vacant lot and 3 Hudson St. NY Public Library.

Until a found a photo with higher resolution turned up it was impossible to figure out the name of the carpenter at 3 Hudson St. This second photo tells us J.V. Outcalt was occupying this property sometime between 1857 and 1860. What exactly is in the empty lot between numbers 1 and 3 Hudson? It could be anything from a small shop used by a tradesman to an outhouse, it’s hard to tell. It is not apparent if another business occupies the ground floor of 3 Hudson or if Outcalt has the entire building. On the far right is one edge of 5 Hudson and the occupant is a house and sign painter. It is likely the same business as seen in the 1865 photo.

In 1865 this short block had the addition of 2 Hudson where Henry Croker, Jr. opened his printing business. How was an even numbered address put on this odd-numbered block? First, there is no Hudson Street across the street, it’s West Broadway over there. Second, this was New York in the 1860s, so what are you going to do about it?

John Peake, the druggist, now occupies the ground floor of No. 3 and Leonard Ring (established 1848) has his house and sign painting business on the upper floors of No. 5. Using a jeweler’s loupe revealed the Sample Room on the ground floor of No. 5 was not part of the painting business. It is O’Brien’s Sample Room (just visible on the awning), where according to the sign behind the left-side door, one could sample ale and probably spirits. Well, that explains the barrel at curbside and the jugs arranged under the window.

Based on a poster advertising Aug. 3, 1865, as the date for the annual picnic of the Mutual Society Club we have an approximate date of the photo. The Civil War was over and New York, already experiencing a steady population growth, was about to take off. In 1840, the population count was around 313,000, by 1850 it was 516,00, by 1860 814,000 and in 1870 it was 942,000. Around the time of the 1865 photo the west side of Lower Manhattan had a population per square mile density of 93,500. People lived and worked cheek by jowl. Lower Manhattan was dense with businesses and boarding houses.

In 1854, No. 3 Hudson St. was occupied by Allen & MacDowell, carpenters. They don’t show up in later business directories. Peter Bertine, carpenter, is listed at 3 Hudson in the 1856/57 directory. J.V. Outcalt seems to be the next occupant, but is not found in the available city directories until the 1862/63 edition. There were competing city directories and he could be listed in an other edition.

In a later listing he uses his first name, John, and in the 1871/72 city directory his full name, John Voorhees Outcalt, is given and he has formed a partnership with George Youngs, a builder.

The business is Youngs & Outcalt, Builders. The 1871/72 directory included an advertisement for the business. In the city directories George Youngs also has his own listing with both addresses.

Wilsons City Directory, 1871/72, NY Public Library.

George Youngs began his listings in the city directory around the same time as Outcalt. Another change for Outcalt was his home address, moving from East Seventh to West 55th Street. He may have gotten married, or was already married and with business more successful was able to move.

Looking down Hudson Street, 1870, NY Public Library.

This photo was taken the year prior to the Outcalt and Youngs partership and was taken at the front of our Hudson Street block. It gives a better idea of the street traffic running at the front of the building. The triangle on the lower right is now the present-day Bogardus Garden.

In the 1875/76 city directory a Peter I.V. Outcalt, with no occupation noted, is listed directly below John V. Outcalt. This may be his son working at 3 Hudson. In the next year’s directory Peter I.V. is listed as a builder and he continues to be listed until 1880.

The 1877/78 directory has the last listing for J.V. Outcalt, carpenter, with the Hudson and Seventh Street addresses. He is not listed in the 1878/79 directory, however George Youngs is, but not Youngs & Outcalt. It is likely John V. Outcalt died sometime in 1878 or 1879 (city business directories run from June to the following May). In the 1880/81 directory there is a listing for Mary H. Outcalt, widow of John. As a side note, in all the directories checked no other John or J. Outcalt was listed. Based on the photo dated between 1857-1860 and the city business listings John Voorhees Outcalt had his shop at 3 Hudson St. for somewhere between 18-22 years. That’s a long run in a city changing at a rapid pace.

Another thing of note is Leonard Ring, the house and sign painter at 5 Hudson, was listed at a different address in the 1875/76 directory and in the 1877/78 and 1878/79 directories he is not found. His business was started in 1848 and it is quite possible he died within a year or two of Outcalt.

Get your hankies out for this next part. Sometime in the late 1890s Ridley’s Candy and the building at 1 Hudson St. were gone and in their place the Irving National Bank was built.

Finished in 1903, NY Public Library.

An additional change for the area was the elevation of the train tracks (dismantled decades later) and I decided to not make you depressed by showing you any more photos of what replaced Nos. 3 and 5 in later decades, or today. The Irving National Bank building eventually took on other names and today is One Hudson and filled with luxurious TriBeCa condos.

Let’s cheer up and go over to the Lower East Side and meet the other Mechanic.

The Ship Joiner on the Lower East Side

1865, photo by Marcus Ormsby, New York Historical Society.

Daniel Coger was listed as a shipbuilder at 184 Front St. in the 1855/56 directory. The following year he (as a joiner) and Thomas Hanes (carpenter) were now at 480 Water St. and this probably marked the year he first owned his shop. Did he buy the shop with the ship’s wheel on the roof or did he put it there himself?

Daniel Coger is the only Coger listed at 480 Water St. until his son, John Jr. joins the business as a joiner in the 1864/1865 city directory. The photo above, taken in 1865, may mark the year the business became Daniel Coger & Son, certainly an important event for the family. Thomas Hanes is pictured to the left in the photo, at the front of the small brick shop.

These photos of workman assembled before their shops were a true event and possibly the only time they would have their photo taken, something that can be hard to believe in today’s selfie-drenched world. An effort was made to turn up in your best clothes and that might entail adding a vest over your work shirt and dusting down your trousers. The proprietor might but on a jacket and top hat. Shop goods would be positioned at the front door and if you had a wagon it was cleaned up ready to be photographed. The photographer would sell the photos on cartes-de-visite to be used as advertisements. And what must it have felt like when the photographer arrived with the finished product and for the first time seeing oneself in a photograph?

1857, NY Public Library.

The shop at 480 Water St. (marked with the ship’s wheel) and its adjacent lumberyard are close to the Pike Slip that ran down to the water. A portion of the lumberyard can be seen on the right in the photo.

Shipbuilders, circa 1860. University of Maryland Digital Collections.

The group photo of 1865 may also mark the 30th year (possibly more) of Daniel Coger’s work as a ship joiner, for there is a Daniel Coger listed in Longworth’s Directory in the 1835/36 edition.

Coenties Slip, 1871, New York Historical Society.

I couldn’t find a photo of the Pike Slip but did come across one of the Coenties Slip, which was further down the waterfront and near the Battery. It provides a glimpse of the kind and number of ships on the waterfront and where Coger & Son worked when 0utside of their shop.

Another view of the Coenties Slip, 1876, NY Public Library.

Daniel Coger is listed in the city directories through the 1878/79 edition. In the following year only John Jr. is found. It is likely Daniel died. If so, he was a business owner for at least 22 years and before owning his shop he would have apprenticed and worked for others. Altogether he could have easily worked for 40 or more years along the waterfront, living long enough for his son to join the business and succeed him.

John Jr. is listed as a joiner and remains at 480 Water St. through 1883. In the 1884/85 city directory, he is at the same address but is now listed as a truckman. When he joined his father’s business the population of New York was around 814,000 and 20 years later, when he was no longer or could no longer be a ship joiner, the city population was 1.2 million. He saw the growth of Brooklyn shipyards shift work away from Lower Manhattan and at the same time great changes in the modes of transportation.

To pick up again on Thomas Schlereth’s Material Culture article, wheres the artisans of New York participated in and were honored in the 1788 celebrations things were vastly different in the 1853 New York Crystal Palace Exhibition of Art, Sciences, and Manufactures,  “…President Franklin Pierce opened the fair but the many artisans who had constructed the fair site and crafted the objects on display were not, as Horace Greeley observed, invited to share in the inaugural ceremonies in any appropriate or official way. Their products and processes were celebrated, but not their persons. By the 1850s industrialization had begun its impact…”

John V. Outcalt and Daniel Coger both came up in their trades during the 1850s and by the mid-1860s owned their own shops. They worked as they were taught and followed long-held traditions in a world that was rapidly changing. On the door steps of their shops they saw carriages replaced with trolleys, rail lines that ran to the state capital, sail competing with steam and metal replacing wood. The city directories indicate they had relatively long and stable business lives, but they were close to the end of the line.

These old photos intrigue us and make us yearn to know more. We have just a few details about their work-carpenter, builder, joiner, shipwright and where they worked. We want to visit their shops, the lumberyards, hear their stories and ask loads of questions. And we want to know the individual.

Suzanne Ellison

*”The New York Artisan in the Early Republic: A Portrait from Graphic Evidence, 1787-1853” by Thomas J. Schlereth, Modern Culture, Vol.20, No.1.

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