The Cabinetmaker’s Account

The Cabinetmaker’s Account

Be a part of the launch of LancasterHistory’s new artifact-focused programming series, the Material Culture Forum! On Thursday, January 24, 2019, join LancasterHistory Curatorial staff for in-depth object studies of Lancaster County furniture followed by a presentation by Jay Robert Stiefel, who will join us in conversation about his new book, The Cabinetmaker’s Account: John Head’s Record of Craft & Commerce in Colonial Philadelphia, 1718-1753.

For event details and how to register, please scroll to the bottom of this event.

At 4pm, LancasterHistory Assistant Curator Tori Pyle will present a close look and conversation about Lancaster County furniture, using objects from the LancasterHistory Collections.

At 4:30pm, special guest Jay Robert Stiefel will join us in a presentation and discussion of “The Cabinetmaker’s Account.”

English joiner John Head (1688–1754) immigrated to Philadelphia in 1717 and became one of its most successful artisans and merchants. However, his prominence was lost to history until the author’s discovery of his account book at the Library of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. A find of great historical importance, Head’s account book is the earliest and most complete to have survived from any cabinetmaker working in British North America or in Great Britain. It chronicles the commerce, crafts, and lifestyles of early Philadelphia’s entire community: its shopkeeping, cabinetmaking, chairmaking, clockmaking, glazing, metalworking, needleworking, property development, agriculture, botany, livestock, transport, foodstuffs, drink, hardware, fabrics, furnishings, household wares, clothing, building materials, and export trade.

Image of Jay Robert Stiefel.
Jay Robert Stiefel. Photography credit to the American Philosophical Society.

Jay Robert Stiefel, historian of Colonial Philadelphia society and its material culture, presents the definitive interpretation of the John Head account book and introduces many other discoveries. The culmination of nearly 20 years of research, this new volume serves as an essential reference work on 18th-century Philadelphia, its furniture and material culture, as well as an intimate and detailed social history of the interactions among that era’s most talented artisans and successful merchants. (Click here to view John Head’s digitized account book.)




This event begins at 4pm on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at, 230 N. President Ave., Lancaster.

Tickets are $15 for members and $25 for non-members. Advance tickets are required and may be purchased online by click the “Buy Tickets” button below or by calling (717) 392-4633. Questions and accessibility requests may be directed to or (717) 392-4633. Ticketholders should bring a paper printout of their tickets or be able to display their tickets on a cellphone or other internet-enabled device to check-in to the lecture.

Members Save! The Material Culture Forum will be held quarterly throughout the year. Come to all four Forums and save $40 by becoming a member! Click here to learn more about becoming a member of or renewing your membership.


January 24, 2019 Ryder Hall at, 230 N. President Avenue 4 - 5:30PM $15 Members | $25 Non-Members