Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Artifacts have long been markers of wealth, status, self-identity, or taste. As a result, most studies of social distinction in British and American material culture have tended to focus upon the consumption/possession perspective. To explore the production side of material culture distinction, this chapter focuses upon furniture history, examining the structures of furniture making in colonial British society. Comparative exploration of America in the eighteenth century, India in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and Australia in the early nineteenth century provides a sense of how the social structure of production operated, how it affected the look of the objects, and how it has continued to influence contemporary understanding of these objects. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the backgrounds of cabinetmakers had a direct impact on the possibilities of their work and prospects. These period distinctions have subsequently fostered a different sort of distinction today wherein the skills and legacy of nonwhite and convict cabinetmakers, the artisanal “other” in the British Empire, continue to be undervalued or ignored. Beautiful collected objects often distract us from the analysis of the systems of their production or an ethical critique of those systems.

Keywords: colonial America, colonial India, colonial Australia, low technology, family dynasty, merchant producer, indentured servant, skilled slave, caste, convict

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.