Clothes Press

Clothes Press
Black walnut, yellow pine, and poplar
Attributed to Mardun V. Eventon
Prince William County, Virginia
ca. 1755-1765
This clothes press is attributed to the shop of Mardun V. Eventon of Prince William County. Like most rural artisans, Eventon combined house joiner's work with cabinetmaking. The construction of this press reflects how the techniques of house joinery influenced Eventon's work. Each side of the object was probably laid out and made as a separate unit, like the procedures used for the construction of architectural paneling. Mortise and tenon joints, commonly found in house construction, are used throughout the piece. The only use of dovetails, the joints usually used in cabinetmaking, is in the drawers.

By the 1750s, the clothes press had become a popular form used for the storage of clothing, textiles, small valuables, and documents. While popular in England, the use of this form in New England was relatively rare. The popularity of the form in both England and the Southern colonies reflects the adoption of English tastes and styles by the Southern colonial gentry.

The 1782 inventory of Colonel Fielding Lewis lists "1 Black Walnut Press" in the Small Room on the first floor. The object is followed by an extensive list of household textiles, such as tablecloths, napkins, sheets, pillowcases, and towels—indicating the items that were stored in the piece.