Shaker Sewing Desk - John Keith Russell - Design Miami/ The global forum for collectible design
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Shaker Sewing Desk


This Shaker Sewing Desk is an innovative example of adaptive reuse. Made in New Lebanon, New York, this piece began as a tapered leg, one-drawer, cherry worktable with a tray top made in the 1840s. Approximately three decades later, the table was outfitted with a finely-dovetailed upper gallery fitted with two nailed drawers to accommodate sewing tools and notions, and a lower storage box with a hinged door fastened with a half-bowtie iron latch. ¶ The emergence of the Sewing Desk in its many iterative forms illustrates the way that Shaker economic life evolved around the time of the Civil War. Through the late 18th and much of the 19th century, the Shaker economy was predominantly agrarian—major industries included garden seeds, medicinal herbs, brooms, wool, dairy, and products made from maple, apples, and other crops. As the 19th century wore on, a shift began to occur. The Shakers increasingly relied on products made by the Sisters—poplarware, rag rugs, knitwear, gloves, bonnets—and the host of other items sold in the Shaker stores. Income from these items was what supported the Shakers into and through the 20th century. The intention and care put into the furniture made specifically for Sisters’ work—evidenced by this Sewing Desk—illustrates the value of the Sisters’ economy and the forward-thinking emphasis on gender equality more broadly within Shaker communities.

  • Dimension/

    52.7 x 82.6 x 72.1 cm (20.7 x 32.5 x 28.4 in)

  • Style/


  • Heritage/


  • Ships from/

    NY, USA

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