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 Joseph Barry  (1757 - 1838)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/South Carolina      Known for: cabinetmaker; fine craftsmanship

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Biography from The Columbus Museum of Art, Georgia:
Born in Dublin, Joseph Barry trained there and in London as a skilled cabinetmaker. About 1794 he arrived in Philadelphia, where there existed a promising market for an ambitious furniture craftsman. (1)  Barry appears first in the Philadelphia directory in 1794 as a partner with Alexander Calder, and by 1797, he is using his own name at a shop on South Second Street, a business that was maintained until 1833. (2)

In 1812 Barry advertised that he both made and has in his "ware-rooms a variety of the newest and most fashionable Cabinet Furniture, superbly finished in the rich Egyptian and Gothic style, which [he] will dispose of on the most reasonable terms."

Indeed, with an established reputation and clientele by that date, Barry provided Philadelphia’s elite with the most current examples of high-style furniture.

Sources include:

(1)  Donald L. Fennimore and Robert T. Trump, “Joseph B. Barry, Philadelphia cabinet maker,” Magazine Antiques, CXXXXV (May 1989), 1214, pls. II and III.
Also, see Robert T. Trump, “Joseph B. Barry, Philadelphia Cabinetmaker,” Magazine Antiques, CVII (January 1975).

(2).  According to Ethel Bjerkoe (The Cabinet Makers of America (Exton, PA: Shiffer Limited, 1973), p. 38),  Barry left Philadelphia briefly to escape a Yellow Fever epidemic and is listed as having a shop in Savannah on Commerce Row that he advertises in October 1798.  By November of that same year, he announces that he is returning to Philadelphia.  From this, we can infer that he did not close his shop on South Second Street during this southern sojourn.  Very likely Barry was more interested in developing a new clientele from a prosperous Southern city than fleeing a possible disease.

Submitted by Philip D. Zimmerman and Charles T. Butler, Columbus Museum

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