Finding Aid to the Jesse William Bair Patterns of Early American Furniture and Business Records

Col. 162

© Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library  
Winterthur, DE 19735  

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Table of contents
Drawings, patterns, and business records relating to Jess William Bair's cabinetmaking and furniture repair shop in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Background note:
Jesse William Bair was a cabinetmaker who worked in the early American style. He had his home and shop in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Although Bair made hundreds of pieces of furniture, most of his business activity was centered on furniture repair and restoration. His primary clients were Joe Kendig and Robert S. Stuart. Bair was married to Alma B. Bair; they had at least one son, Richard.

Scope and content
The collection consists of 1515 drawings and patterns of furniture, along with business records that relate to Bair's furniture repair activities. The patterns of early American furniture are in the William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton, and Duncan Phyfe styles and were made from 1922 to 1962. Forms represented include chairs, sofas, secretaries, highboys, lowboys, clocks, mirrors, tables, stands, etc. The drawings display intricate attention to detail in dimensions, inlay, carving, and turning. Also included is a drawing book showing hardware design and ball and claw feet. A few patterns were laid in ledgers, specifically a pediment design for a chest and book case (templates), a design for a desk and for a rosette, and small drawings of inlay.

The business records consist of nine ledgers and/or receipt books for the years 1928 to 1932, 1940, and 1942 to 1961; copies of receipts kept for tax purposes from 1959 to 1961; correspondence with customers; a letter regarding the purchase of curly maple; and a list of names and addresses of frequent customers and suppliers. Ledger entries consist of the name of the customer or his initials, a description of the piece of furniture to be repaired, and either charges for restoring and refinishing or the number of hours spent on the repair. Bair was careful to note whether he charged sales tax; tax identification numbers for Robert S. Stuart and Joe Kendig are found throughout the volume.

One of the volumes contains an itemized list of income and expenses for the years from 1954 to 1960. Bair had such expenses as electricity, heat, and fire insurance for the shop; supplies, including glue, masking tape, sandpaper, screws, and a hand saw; and such finishing material as alcohol, linseed oil, turpentine, wax, "dryer," and steel wool.

The larger templates are shelved separately from the smaller patterns and business records, most of the patterns are arranged by form and style.

Administrative information


Gift of Richard J. Bair

Additional descriptive information

Related material
Jesse Bair's letters to Robert S. Stuart are in the Stuart papers at this repository, Col. 81.

OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION Extent: 3 cu.ft. Date range: 1922-1962 Related materials Jesse Bair's letters to Robert S. Stuart are in the Stuart papers at this repository, Col. 81. Creator: Jesse William Bair (fl. 1922-1962) Title: Patterns of early American furniture and business records Dates: 1922-1962 Call No.: Col. 162 Acc. No.: 63×97, 79×331 Quantity: 3 boxes (ca. 1 cu. ft.) Location: 18/D/4 and 4

Other descriptive information

The Winterthur Library

The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

Added entries

  • Antiques - Conservation and restoration.
  • Business records - Pennsylvania - Hanover (York County)
  • Colonial revival (Art)
  • Furniture - Repairing.
  • Furniture - Styles.
  • Furniture design.
  • Furniture finishing.
  • Furniture industry and trade - Pennsylvania - Hanover (York County)
  • Furniture, Early American.
  • Income tax - Accounting.
  • Kendig, Joe.
  • Sales tax - Accounting.
  • Stuart, Robert S.

    Genre terms
  • Account books.
  • Correspondence.
  • Daybooks.
  • Drawings.
  • Ledgers.
  • Patterns (design elements).
  • Receipts.

    Functions and occupations
  • Cabinetmakers.
  • Furniture makers.

    Contact information

    Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library
    Winterthur, DE 19735


    Collection inventory

    Patterns [an index available at this repository gives more details about what is found in some of these folders]
    Box 1

    Folders 1-2

    Folder 3

    hairy paw carving, rubbings
    Folder 4

    brackets and moldings
    Folder 5

    legs and miscellaneous carvings
    Folders 6-7

    finials and low-boy drops
    Folder 8

    proposed card table carvings, rubbings
    Folder 9

    Lewis chair rubbings
    Folder 10

    frets, brackets
    Folder 11

    teapot handles and dimensions; jewel box; pipe box
    Folder 12

    Folders 13-16

    Folder 17

    scroll board carving
    Folder 18

    low boy shell, Prince of Wales feathers, other designs
    Folder 19

    Patterns and business papers [index available at this repository gives more details about what is found in some of these folders]
    Box 2

    pie-crust tables, tilt-top stems
    Folder 1

    rosettes and mirror rosettes
    Folder 2

    shells, streamers, and chair crests
    Folder 3

    cartouches and urns
    Folders 4-5

    marquetry patterns; Hepplewhite urns
    Folders 6-7

    Folders 8-10

    patterns and pictures from box labeled 1959
    Folder 11

    receipts, letters, and other papers from box labeled 1959
    Folder 12

    patterns and pictures from box labeled 1960
    Folder 13

    receipts, letters, and other papers from box labeled 1960
    Folder 14

    patterns and pictures from box labeled 1961/ 1962 tax receipt
    Folder 15

    receipts, letters, and other papers from box labeled 1961/ 1962 tax receipt
    Folder 16

    auction catalogs
    Folder 17

    correspondence and photos
    Folder 18

    Record books, some with patterns
    Box 3

    Two rolled patterns, for table legs with bell flower inlay

    3 empty boxes, the contents of which are now in Box 2, folders 11-16

    record book, March 1928 to Oct. 8, 1930
    March 1928 to Oct. 8, 1930

    records amount of time spent on specific pieces of furniture, but no prices

    Journal, records for 1930-1931

    mostly undated entries listing customer's name, what worked on, and numbers (either time or charges) spent for restoring and refinishing the pieces

    record book, 1931-1932

    contains notes about making furniture, several patterns, and a list of furniture with prices

    record book, from Jan. 18, 1940

    records time and prices

    record book, Jan. 1, 1942-1953
    Jan. 1, 1942-1953

    lists customers, pieces of furniture (sometimes noting that repairs were done), and charges; also includes some notes about income and expenses

    record book, Jan. 1, 1943 to 1944
    Jan. 1, 1943 to 1944

    records time and prices

    "Daily Reminder, 1947," but used 1954-1960

    records charges made to Kindig, Fox, Stuart, and others; specific pieces of furniture are mentioned, but no indication of whether the charges are for repairs, refinishing, or making

    record book, Jan.-March 1960
    Jan.-March 1960

    records furniture with prices, also a list of the cost of materials used in a bureau

    record book, 1960-1961

    records charges for furniture; also an account of materials bought for 1961, income and expenses, time spent on certain pieces of furniture, and a pattern

    record book, undated

    a few entries recording work done for Mr. Kindig [in Farmers State Bank book]

    Shelf section 4: large templates and patterns:

    An index is available at this repository that briefly describes the templates found in this area.