The Harmonists, an economically successful nineteenth-century utopian society, created a remarkable material world. Many of their artifacts survive intact at their third and final community, now known as Old Economy Village, in western Pennsylvania. The extensive furniture collection, most of it dating from the years between 1805 and 1835, has long daunted scholars because the objects are unsigned, unmentioned in the society's accounts, and went uninventoried when individual members died. Philip D. Zimmerman overcomes these obstacles by using object-based analysis to identify core features that distinguish Harmonist-made furniture from that made by craftsmen elsewhere in the region and the nation. He combines this with information from surviving written records and provenances, most from the twentieth century. His strategic approach yields a compelling story of the built environment and the wide range of artifacts made by ordinary woodworkers who were members of the society.
This interdisciplinary study will appeal to students and specialists in the fields of furniture history, material culture, American studies, western Pennsylvania history, utopian societies, and museum studies. In addition, it will be a valuable resource for museum curators, collectors of nineteenth-century furniture and other goods, and tool historians --Book Jacket.