The Winterthur Library

 The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, DE  19735

302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883

 

 

OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION

 

Creator:          Bivins, John, 1940-                  

Title:               John Bivins papers

Dates:             1964-ca.1991

Call No.:         Col. 828

Acc. No.:         07x2

Quantity:        4 boxes, 6 folders, and 8 rolls

Location:        3 B 1 and Map Case C, drawer 7

 

 

 

BIOGRAPHICAL STATEMENT

 

John Franklin Bivins, Jr., was a carver, maker of gunstocks, lecturer, author, museum employee, and consultant in early Southern decorative arts.  John, the son of an electronics engineer, was from High Point, North Carolina, graduated from the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn., and received a bachelor’s degree in English from Guilford College.  His father collected antiques, including old muskets and rifles, and John became interested in repairing them so they could be used again.  At Guilford College, he wrote a thesis about North Carolina gunmakers, which became the basis for his book Longrifles of North Carolina.

 

Bivins worked for a printing company in High Point and then took a job in the Historic Sites Division of the North Carolina Department of Archives and History.  In 1968, he began work at Old Salem.  On the side, he made and carved gunstocks.  He became director of publications for the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) and began to lecture on antiques.  He wrote books on North Carolina and Charleston furniture, Moravian pottery, and Southern decorative arts.  At one point, MESDA needed a carved chimney breastpiece for one of its rooms.  Bivins was given the commission, and so successful was he that other museum houses hired him to carve wood work.  Eventually, he left MESDA to concentrate on wood carving and lecturing.  John Bivins died in Manchester, Vermont, on August 16, 2001.

 

 

SCOPE AND CONTENT

 

A collection of drawings, photographs, and papers drawn, acquired, or written by John Bivins, the noted gunstocker, carver, and expert in Southern decorative arts.  Of particular note is a typed draft of his book “The Art of the Fire-lock,” together with the many photos taken to illustrate it, many showing the steps in crafting a gun by hand.  The collection also includes a script entitled “Authenticating Antique Furniture,” for a show produced and directed by John Bivins and William Connell, and a copy of Bivins’ college thesis about North Carolina guns.  The drawings reflect Bivins’ career not only as a maker of gunstocks but also as a wood carver in general.  Drawings of early rifles were doubtless used as inspiration for his own creations.  Drawings of St. Michael’s Church (Charleston, S.C.), Gunston Hall (Va.), the Cornwallis House in Wilmington, N.C., a mirror for a Brewton House (of which there are two in Charleston), and others, were from projects on which Bivins worked. 

 

 

ORGANIZATION

 

All drawings for a project share the same accession number, but not all are filed together; instead, they are filed by size.

 

 

LANGUAGE OF MATERIALS

 

The materials are in English.

 

 

RESTRICTIONS ON ACCESS

 

Collection is open to the public.  Copyright restrictions may apply.

           

 

PROVENANCE

           

Gift of Anne McPherson, widow of John Bivins.

 

 

ACCESS POINTS

 

Topics:

            Burgwin-Wright Houes (Wilmington, N.C.)

Gunston Hall (Va.)

            St. Michael’s Episcopal Church (Charleston, S.C.)

Antiques \x Expertising.

Decoration and ornament, Architectural.

Kentucky rifles.

Mirrors.

            Rifles.

            Wood-carving.

Charleston (S.C.) \x Buildings, structures, etc.

Carvers.

           

 

 

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE COLLECTION

 

Location: 3 B 1 and Map Case C, drawer 7

 

Box 1: “The Art of the Fire-Lock”

 

Folders 1-4:     typescript (acc. 07x2.2)

 

Folder 5:          photographs for work (acc. 07x2.2) (continued in next box)

 

 

Box 2: “The Art of the Fire-Lock”

 

Folders 1-5:     photographs (acc. 07x2.2) (continued in next box)

 

 

Box 3:

 

Folder 1:          “The Art of the Fire-Lock”: photographs (acc. 07x2.2)

 

Folders 2-3:     script for “Authenticating Antique Furniture,” Pilaster Productions, produced and directed by John Bivins and William Connell, copyright 1994 (acc. 07x2.3)

 

Folder 4:          “The Kentucky Rifle in North Carolina,” thesis submitted to Guilford College by Bivins, 1964

                        [note: this thesis is not part of the 07x2 gift, but is filed with the Bivins papers; limited photocopying may be done by the Downs Collection staff; those who wish a copy of the entire thesis must contact the Friends Historical Collection, Hege Library, Guilford College, 5800 West Friendly Ave., Greensboro, NC  27410)

 

Folder 5:          photos of the Cupola House, Edenton, N.C., taken in 1991 (acc. 07x2.4)

                        Includes a letter about the photos

 

Folder 6:          photocopy of article about John Bivins from Winston-Salem Journal, 1990 (07x2.1; another copy is in map case, folder 6); also an obituary

 

 

Box 4:

 

Folders 1-7:     photographs of the details of a large carved mirror (possibly more than one mirror, possibly the Brewton House mirror, see 07x2.20) (acc. 07x2.5a-gg)

 

Folder 8:          drawing of a carved design with a face, on cloth (acc. 07x2.14)

 

Folder 9:          small Gunston Hall designs (other Gunston Hall drawings are in map case, folder 6, and with rolled drawings):

copies of a carved design, labeled Buchanan document (reads backwards on some copies)  (07x2.15a-e);

proposed additions to Chinese Room hoods, signed J. Bivins, 1991 (07x2.15f);

Gunston truss tops, form II (07x2.15g);

Photos of chimney piece (07x2.15o)

 

 

Map Case C, Drawer 7

 

Folder 1: plans (blue line drawings) of the Burgwin-Wright House (Cornwallis House, Wilmington, N.C.) (acc. 07x2.6a-j)

 

                        .6a       site plan (sheet 1 of 10);

                        .6b       basement plan (sheet 2 of 10);

                        .6c       first floor plan (sheet 3 of 10);

                        .6d       second floor plan (sheet 4 of 10);

                        .6e       north (front) elevation (sheet 5 of 10);

                        .6f        east (side) elevation (sheet 6 of 10);

                        .6g       south (rear) elevation (sheet 7 of 10);

                        .6h       west (side) elevation (sheet 8 of 10);

                        .6i        chair rail, detail section (full size); main entrance, vertical section (half full size); main entrance, jamb section (half full size) (sheet 9 of 10);

                        .6j        picket & railing detail; vertical section, typical window (half full size) (sheet not numbered)

 

                        All Cornwallis House drawings done by James Fletcher Barnes, School of Design, North Carolina State College, as part of Historic Architecture Research project or series; scales included; not dated

 

Folder 2: plans (blue line drawings) for St. Michael’s Church (Charleston, S.C.), hurricane repair (07x2.7a-m)

 

                        .7a       west and south elevations (sheet A 101);

                        .7b       east and north elevations (sheet A  102);

                        .7c       first floor, balcony and roof plans (sheet A  201);

                        .7d       1st-7th levels, steeple (sheet A  202);

                        .7e       nave & apse interior elevations (sheet A  301);

                        .7f        north, south, & main vestibules – interior elevations (sheet A  302);

                        .7g       reflected ceiling plan (sheet A  401);

                        .7h       section thru steeple; copper roof at spire (sheet A  402);

                        .7i        details: enlarged plan at lantern level; flashing at top of cherub; new batten (typical); cornice at lantern; section 3 (typical); lantern deck balustrades; details (typical); existing batten (typical); base of outside columns (typical) (sheet A  403);

                        .7j        flashing details, structural details, wind vane and ball (sheet A  404);

                        .7k       vertical trusses elevations (sheet A  405);

                        .7l        vertical trusses elevations (sheet A  406);

                        .7m      gutter details (sheet A 407)

 

                        All the above St. Michael’s Church drawings are from Cummings & McCrady, Inc., of Charleston, drawn by DB, dated March 5, 1992; top drawing stamped preliminary copy (these repairs were necessitate by Hurricane Hugo, which struck Charleston in Sept. 1989)

 

                        .12       proposed lamp standards, St. Michaels Church, J. Bivins for Cummings & McCrady, 12-93 (blue line drawing)

 

Folder 3: drawings of rifles

 

            .8a       German flintlock rifle (full size drawing; 4 rifles with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison, 1988, no. 5);

.8b       Pre-Revolutionary longrifle, Eastern Pennsylvania region (full size drawing; 4 rifles with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison, 1988, no. 4);

.8c       German flintlock rifle (with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison);

.8d       Jacob Dickert rifle (full size drawing, with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison)

.8e       Davy Crockett’s first rifle (full size drawing, with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison);

.8f        Davy Crockett’s first rifle (full size drawing, with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison, 1988, no. 3);

.8g       Tennessee iron mounted rifle, Zacharia Luster, Washington County (full size drawing, with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison, no. 14);

.8h       Joseph Fruwirth, In Wienn, 1722-1797 (full size drawing, with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison, 1991, no. 12);

.8i        Jos. Fruwirth, In Wienn, 1722-1797 (full size drawing, with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison, 1991, no. 4);

.8j        Edward Marshall rifle, Bucks Co., Penn. (full size drawing, with details; drawing by L. H. Harrison, 1991, no. 11) [see also .10]

 

(other rifle drawings are in map case, folder 3, 07x2.9-.10)

 

Folder 4: plans for museum display cases (acc. 07x2.11)

 

.11a-b  Exhibits, Museum II (layout of display cases; two copies of same drawing);

.11c-d  museum XIII hall, museum VI (layout of some cases, two copies of same drawing);

.11e-f   cases, Museum II (details of cases; two copies of same drawing);

.11g     cases, Museum III, Old Salem, Inc., drawn by JB, 1974

.11h     rifle case, Vogler

.11i      3’ case, J. Vogler        

 

 

Folder 5:

 

.19       Humphrey Sommers House, Charleston, S.C., measured drawings done for MESDA by Charles Bayless, architect, n.d. (two copies of each drawing)

 

.19a1-2            south chamber, second floor: plan, elevations [of walls], and details of rails, sill, sashes, etc.

            .19b1-2            south chamber: further details

            .19c1-2            drawing room, first floor: plan, elevations [of walls], and details

            .19d1-2            drawing room: further details

 

 

Folder 6:

 

            .1         copy of article about John Bivins from Winston-Salem Journal, 1990

 

.13a-d  P. Scott table: leg (a) and carved edge (b-d, three copies); the drawings for the carved edge include the original design of 1755 and a slightly altered design done in 1990

 

.15h-i   Gunston Hall: Palladian Room mantle frieze carving, signed J. Bivins, 1991; .15h is the entire frieze, and .15i is half the design

(other Gunston Hall drawings are in Box 4, folder 9 and with rolled drawings)

 

.16       drawing of a carved design

 

.18       Robt. Morris stern board: carved design with the name Robt. Morris

 

.20e-g  carved bird decoration for Brewton House mirror

(other mirror drawings are with rolled drawings; see also photos in Box 4)

 

 

 

Rolled drawings:

 

.9         drawing of a rifle, labeled “plan für die Radschloss bückse geschafft mit schulter-schaft”

            (other rifle drawings are in map case, folder 3; see also 07x2.10)

 

.10       drawing of Edward Marshall rifle, Penn Indian Walk, drawing by T. K. Dawson, 1970, retraced Aug. 1975; the name Jack Haugh is also written on the drawing [see also .8j]

            (other rifle drawings are in map case, folder 3; see also 07x2.9)

 

.15j-n   Gunston Hall: overmantel trusses, Palladian Room, signed J. Bivins, 1991 (four of these are blue line drawings, two of which were copied backwards); part of the design is labeled Feb. 1984 Phillips & Buchanan document (see also .15a-e, in box 4)

 

.15o-p  Gunston Hall: Palladian Room c’piece [i.e. chimney piece], Phillips, .15p marked as being with corrections; photos of .15o are in Box 4, folder 9; please consult photos before accessing these drawings

(other Gunston Hall drawings are in Box 4, folder 9 and in map case, folder 6)

 

.17       Gehrhon(?) china table: full size drawing of a table with straight legs and carved apron

 

.20a-g  Brewton House mirror, full scale drawings, labeled “a looking glass for the Brewton House, J. Bivins, 1991,” with small drawings of carved birds which could be added to mirror (.20e-g – in map case , folder 6)

            [note: Charleston, S.C., has a Miles Brewton House and a Robert Brewton House]