Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption, 1720-1920

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2003 Hard Cover As New in As New jacket First printing. 394 pp. with notes, photographs and illustrations throughout. In examining some of the material possessions of the ... Quaker (Society of Friends) families during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, the contributors to this volume drew on methods of art, social, religious and public histories as well as folklorists, to explore how Friends during this period reconciled their material lives with their belief in the value of simplicity. In earlier times, they manufactures, bought and used such goods as clothing, furniture and buildings, and this life revealed a much more complicated picture than that of a simple people with simple tastes. Scarce title. Read more Show Less

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Overview

The notion of a uniquely Quaker style in architecture, dress, and domestic interiors is a subject with which scholars have long grappled, since Quakers have traditionally held both an appreciation for high-quality workmanship and a distrust of ostentation. Early Quakers, or members of the Society of Friends, who held "plainness" or "simplicity" as a virtue, were also active consumers of fine material goods. Through an examination of some of the material possessions of Quaker families in America during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, the contributors to Quaker Aesthetics draw on the methods of art, social, religious, and public historians as well as folklorists to explore how Friends during this period reconciled their material lives with their belief in the value of simplicity.

In early America, Quakers dominated the political and social landscape of the Delaware Valley, and, because this region held a position of political and economic strength, the Quakers were tightly connected to the transatlantic economy. Given this vantage, they had easy access to the latest trends in fashion and business. Detailing how Quakers have manufactured, bought, and used such goods as clothing, furniture, and buildings, the essays in Quaker Aesthetics reveal a much more complicated picture than that of a simple people with simple tastes. Instead, the authors show how, despite the high quality of their material lives, the Quakers in the past worked toward the spiritual simplicity they still cherish.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An impressive and thought-provoking book of excellent scholarship."—Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

"This anthology of case studies . . . challenges conventional notions of the Society of Friends as theologically bound to plainness, showing the great variety of expression, decoration, and response to changing tastes as both makers and users of material goods."—Choice

From the Publisher

"An impressive and thought-provoking book of excellent scholarship."—Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

"This anthology of case studies . . . challenges conventional notions of the Society of Friends as theologically bound to plainness, showing the great variety of expression, decoration, and response to changing tastes as both makers and users of material goods."—Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812236927
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Emma Jones Lapsansky is Professor of History and Curator, Special Collections, Haverford College. Anne A. Verplanck is Curator of Prints and Paintings, Winterthur Museum.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
1 Past Plainness to Present Simplicity: A Search for Quaker Identity 1
2 From Plainness to Simplicity: Changing Quaker Ideals for Material Culture 16
Pt. I Quakers as Consumers
Introduction 43
3 Quakers and High Chests: The Plainness Problem Reconsidered 50
4 "All That Makes a Man's Mind More Active": Jane and Reuben Haines at Wyck, 1812-1831 90
5 Living in the Light: Quakerism and Colonial Portraiture 122
Pt. II Quakers as Producers
Introduction 149
6 Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley 156
7 Eighteenth-Century Quaker Houses in the Delaware Valley and the Aesthetics of Practice 188
8 Edward Hicks: Quaker Artist and Minister 212
Pt. III Quakers and Modernity
Introduction 237
9 The Aesthetics of Absence: Quaker Women's Plain Dress in the Delaware Valley, 1790-1900 246
10 Sara Tyson Hallowell: Forsaking Plain for Fancy 272
11 What's Real? Quaker Material Culture and Eighteenth-Century Historic Site Interpretation 287
Notes 301
Glossary 371
List of Contributors 381
Index 383
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