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Fig. 4. Dining table, possibly Robert Stewart, ca. 1835. Cherry, cypress, unidentified softwoods. Courtesy of Historic Natchez Foundation

Philadelphia. Such furniture came to Natchez frommajor manufacturing and design centers in the Northeast, with local retailers like Stewart taking advantage of the river for transportation. Larger pieces, however—more like architectural elements than movable furniture— required on-site manufacture and created opportunities for local cabinetmakers to add their work to homes otherwise furnished with imported items. The Melrose library’s towering walnut bookcases with imposing molded cornices (fig. 3) appear in Stewart’s account books as being made by Hamerton, who received $109 for his two- and-a-half months’ work in 1848. 7 The nature of Hamerton’s relationship with Stewart remains unknown. Do the bookcases represent the skill of an exceptional journeyman or the careful management, teaching, and even the hand of Robert Stewart as master cabinetmaker? Regardless of the balance between the two men, the bookcases speak to what Stewart’s shop was capable of creating for its wealthiest clients, who called on local cabinetmakers to fill the gaps where Philadelphia or New York furniture could not meet customer needs. Lastly, a cherry dining table sold by Stewart to William Harris (fig. 4) demonstrates the complex nature of Natchez furniture as the amalgamation of imported, Northern-made parts and pieces with the work of local craftsmen. 8 The use of

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