1800’s Archaeology Tour of Adam Kersh’s Cabinet Shop

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In the above video I share an amazing archaeological tour that I recently embarked on into the archives of the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia.

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Furniture reproductionist and historian George Lott discovered a priceless pre-Civil War cabinet maker shop in Rockingham County, Virginia. that belonged to Adam W. Kersh (1828-1905). This abandoned cabinet shop is a rare glimpse directly into the history of furniture and instrument making.

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See the articles & videos from my previous woodworking tours with George Lott at the amazing Frontier culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia:
Traditional Woodworking Tour: George Lott’s Shop at the Frontier Culture Museum (Part 1)
Traditional Woodworking Tour: George Lott’s Shop at the Frontier Culture Museum (Part 2)
Traditional Woodworking Tour: 1600’s English Furniture & Timber Frame Farmhouse
Traditional Woodworking Tour: 1820s Tool Chest at the Frontier Culture Museum

And here’s a link to the Frontier Culture Museum’s Website so you can see how great it is.

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Adam Kersh was a Virginian Cabinet Maker, Luthier, & Chairmaker who fought in most major  battles of the Civil War. He was not only a skilled craftsman, but also a veteran of most of the major battles of the civil war. He was also of German descent and a life-long bachelor.

Here is a link to the enlightening letters that Adam Kersh wrote to his family members from the Civil War battlefields.

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Below you’ll see many of the photos that were mentioned in the video:

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A very large foot-powered treadle lathe

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Adam Kersh’s workbench and tools that survived the 1905 estate sale

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The table that Adam Kersh used for finishing and painting

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A foot-powered grinder shows that Adam Kersh was interested in keeping up with the technological advances of the bigger cabinet shops.

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One of the violins made by Adam Kersh. He was apparently a talented violinist and was often engaged to play music for his fellow confederate soldiers during the Civil War.

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This form was likely used to shape the body of Kersh’s violin’s:

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Perhaps the most impressive tool that survived the 1905 estate sale, a Spiers Scottish Infille Panel Plane. See how much these planes cost now, at this eBay link.

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Adam Kersh’s patterns are a rare find and teach us more about the process of fine woodworking. Tools were usually sold off at the death of a craftsman, but patterns were usually seen as worthless and therefore discarded.

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This Kersh chair shows the woodworking skill that Kersh had gained over the years. It also shows us the layers of paint that were applied over the years.

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George Lott is certainly a multi-talented guy. He makes and plays bagpipes. My heart grew fond of backpipe music while I lived in Scotland years ago, so George was kind enough to entertain me. Thanks George!

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2017-04-20T09:57:06+00:00

About the Author:

"I'm wildly passionate about traditional woodworking with hand tools, and want to rekindle this lost art. At WoodAndShop I teach you the skills that I learn, and also share anything fascinating that I discover about traditional woodworking. That includes tours of traditional workshops, beautiful furniture, and my favorite tools and books. I hope you enjoy my videos, photos, and articles. Please feel free to leave constructive comments!"

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1 Comment on "1800’s Archaeology Tour of Adam Kersh’s Cabinet Shop"

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Jason Hammond
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Thanks for this piece, its great. Love the War letters. The range of skills of the rural woodworker in the 18th and 19th century is staggering. The Dominys are a great example. Read the transcript of a lecture by Charles Hummel called,”Actually Earning a Living, The Dominy Craftsmen of East Hampton.”

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