Join us for an evening at the Union League with author Jay Robert Stiefel, who will present on his recently published book, The Cabinetmaker’s Account: John Head’s Record of Craft & Commerce in Colonial Philadelphia, 1718-1753.
After emigrating from England to Philadelphia in 1717, joiner John Head went on to become one of the new city’s most successful artisans and merchants. The account book Head kept is the earliest and most detailed such document to survive from all of cabinetmaking in British North America and Great Britain, but much of the history surrounding Head’s prominent career had been lost or gone unnoticed—until Jay Stiefel discovered his account book at the American Philosophical Society Library.
Through his interpretation of the account book and supplemental research to fill in historical gaps, Stiefel shines light on middle-class life and trade in Colonial Philadelphia. The Cabinetmaker’s Account, published by the American Philosophical Society, opens a window to the world of Head and his contemporaries that compels academic and amateur historians alike to look deeper into this period of our city’s history.
Jay Robert Stiefel is an authority on the crafts and commerce of Colonial Philadelphia and the institutions founded by Franklin for the welfare of its tradesmen. A native of our city, he studied history at the University of Pennsylvania and Christ Church, Oxford. Stiefel’s writings and lectures on social history have restored to the historical record many early craftsmen, artists, and merchants whose prominence had been obscured by the passage of time.