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Jonathan Fisher’s Lathe

The first time I saw the lathe assembled, I was bemused. With the crotch wood on one side and the plank on the other, it comes across as quaint and impractical. On close examination, it is clear that this lathe saw years of serious use. Of all the discoveries made during this research, the lathe might be one of the most exciting. At the Fisher house, there are several storage areas with unidentified objects. Early on, I spent considerable time sorting through all the objects but was unable to identify anything notable. After months of sorting through the archives, I opened one box that contained, among other things, a handful of old photographs of objects in the barn. There was...

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Difficult to Draw a Hard and Fast Line

“It is important to stress that few period cabinetmakers made a living exclusively by building furniture. Especially in rural settings, artisans had diverse sources of income. Warren Roberts has said, “craftsmen were usually part-time farmers who had some land on which they grew crops and raised animals, devoting time to their own farm when they could. Hence it is difficult to draw a hard and fast line between the farmer and the specialized craftsman.” If the Arts and Crafts legend of the rural craftsmen working in isolation, doing everything by hand and by the sweat of their brow is true anywhere, it is in Fisher. In rural towns such as Blue Hill, the craft tradition gave the maker more freedom...

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