Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Philip D. Zimmerman

Consultant, Adj. Asst. Prof.
717-390-9818
Office: STA

Professional Biography

In 1992, I left full-time museum employment to start my own museum and decorative arts consulting business.  The decades since have given me an extraordinary opportunity to engage in several long-term museum projects that drew on and enhanced my museum experiences.  My first major client was the New-York Historical Society for whom I worked almost five years as it worked through and out of near bankruptcy and dissolution.  While there I served as the institution’s representative to the New York State Attorney General’s Office and, with their approval, negotiated the first “pre-empt” auction of Society collections to occur in this country.  As part of the financial stabilization plan, I chaired the staff committee charged with identifying objects valued at about $20 million to be deaccessioned.  As the Society slowly worked through its financial difficulties, I also wrote the design concept for visible storage and on-line access for all of that extraordinary institution’s museum collections.

The years since have included several large museum collection-based research projects and many smaller projects and consultancies.  I added part-time teaching:  American furniture courses in the New York University Appraisal Studies Program, where I still teach; and a material culture introductory course in the Bard Graduate Center for Study of the Decorative Arts (1996-2004).  In 2012 and 2013, I taught several “Museum Mysteries” courses through the Phillips Museum at Franklin & Marshall College, where I continue consulting. 

Another aspect of my consultancies has been buying, selling, brokering, and appraising American furniture and decorative arts.  Much of this activity has been tied to my research in one way or another, which has greatly enhanced its interest to me.

Before striking out on my own, I was Senior Curator and Head of the Museum Division at the Winterthur Museum, 1986 to 1991.  My duties included management of the curatorial and conservation departments, Advanced Studies for a few years, and service as chair of the Staff Research Committee for all five years.  I also chaired the exhibition team charged with developing Winterthur’s first gallery-type installation of permanent collections in a new exhibition building.  For that effort, Winterthur received the largest NEH grant awarded that year.

From 1983 to 1986, I was executive director of the Historical Society of York County.  Earlier, I was curator and associate curator at the Currier Gallery of Art in Manchester, N.H.  In both places, I was deeply involved with substantial building projects, as I was at Winterthur.

Education

Ph.D., American and New England Studies Program, Boston University, 1985.

M.A., Winterthur Program in Early American Culture, University of Delaware, 1980.

B.A., cum laude, major in philosophy, Yale University, 1972.

Research Interests

My current work lies in two long-standing areas of interest.  One--early American furniture--has been constant throughout my career.  I have an essay forthcoming in which I dispute scholarship about an important group of mid-18th century chairs.  In addition to lecturing about them at symposia, I curated a small exhibition about them held in the Levy Galleries in New York City.  The show attracted New York Times coverage (see an article by Eve M. Kahn, January 16, 2014).

The other area of interest is in early New England and Middle Colonies Protestant meetinghouse architecture and how worship was conducted in these buildings.  I have written a modest article on the Donegal Presbyterian Church to appear in the Lancaster History Journal and am now completing a follow-up essay on worship in that building and in Presbyterian meetinghouses in general.

Publications

BOOKS AND CATALOGUES

Harmony in Wood:  Furniture of the Harmony Society (Ambridge, Penn.:  Harmonie Associates, 2010).

Delaware Clocks (Dover, Del.:  Biggs Museum, 2006).

American Federal Furniture and Decorative Arts from the Watson Collection (Columbus, Ga.:  Columbus Museum, 2004).

The Sewell C. Biggs Collection of American Art: A Catalogue, 2 vols. (Dover, Del.:  Biggs Museum, 2002), vol. 1,  Furniture section and ceramics entries, pp. 13-138, 212-17, 221.

Lions & Eagles & Bulls: Early American Tavern and Inn Signs from The Connecticut Historical Society, co-author, ed. Susan P. Schoelwer, 22-35, 182-242 (Hartford, Conn.:  Connecticut Historical Society in Association with Princeton University Press, 2000).

Cadwalader Study, with Mark Anderson and Gregory Landrey (Winterthur, Del.:  Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1995).

Seeing Things Differently (Winterthur, Del.:  Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1992).

Turn of the Century Glass:  The Murray Collection of Glass, intro. Paul V. Gardner (Manchester, NH:  The Currier Gallery of Art, 1983).

New England Meeting House and Church:  1630-1850, with Peter Benes (Boston:  Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife by the Currier Gallery of Art and Boston University, 1979).

 

ARTICLES

“The Donegal Presbyterian Meetinghouse,” Journal of Lancaster County’s Historical Society 115, no. 4 (Spring 2014):  82-98, forthcoming.

 “Boston or New York?  Revisiting the Apthorp-Family and Related Sets of Queen Anne Chairs,” in New Perspectives on Boston Furniture, 1630-1860, ed. Brock Jobe and Gerald W.R. Ward (Boston:  Colonial Society of Massachusetts, in publication).

 “The Harmony Society and Their Furniture,” Antiques and Fine Art Magazine 11, no. 2 (Summer 2011):  136-41.

“Notes on the Furniture at Boscobel,” Antiques 177, no. 3 (April/May 2010):  154-61.

 “The ‘Boston Chairs’ of Mid-Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia,” in American Furniture 2009, ed. Luke Beckerdite, (Milwaukee, Wisc.:  The Chipstone Foundation, 2009), 140- 58.

 “Early American Furniture Makers’ Marks,” in American Furniture 2007, ed. Luke Beckerdite, (Milwaukee, Wisc.:  The Chipstone Foundation, 2007), pp. 132-67.

“Living with Antiques: Charming Forge Mansion near Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania,” Antiques 172, no. 3 (September 2007), 94-103.

 “Mystery Solved: An Early Philadelphia Federal Side Chair,” Antiques 171, no. 5 (May 2007): 118-25.

“A Grecian Card Table by William Fisk and Thomas Wightman of Boston,” with David Jorgensen, Antiques 169, no. 5 (May 2006): 146-51.

 “Living with Antiques:  The Watson House and Collection,” Antiques 169, no. 1 (January 2006): 194-203.

 “New York Card Tables, 1800-1825,” in American Furniture 2005, ed. Luke Beckerdite, (Milwaukee, Wisc.:  The Chipstone Foundation, 2005), pp. 119-45.

 “Method in Early American Furniture Identification” in Thomas P. Kugelman and Alice K. Kugelman with Robert Lionetti, Connecticut Valley Furniture:  Eliphalet Chapin and His Contemporaries, 1750-1800 (Hartford:  Connecticut Historical Society Museum, 2005), pp. 477-87.

 “Early American Furniture in the New Castle Historical Society,” Antiques 167, no. 5 (May 2005): 130-41.

“The Architectural Furniture of Duncan Phyfe, 1830-1845” and catalogue entries, The Richard and Beverly Kelly Collection (Portsmouth, N.H., Northeast Auctions, 2005).

“Congregational Churches” in The Encyclopedia of New England Culture, ed. Burt Feintuch and David H. Watters (New Haven and London:  Yale University Press, 2005), pp. 98-99.

“Early American Tables and Other Furniture at Stenton,” Antiques 165, no. 5 (May 2004): 102-109.

“Forward,” Worlds of Jacob Eichholtz (Lancaster County Historical Society, 2003), pp. xi-xiii.

“Eighteenth-century Chairs at Stenton,” Antiques 163, no. 5 (May 2003): 122-29.

American Art in the Columbus Museum:  Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts, ed. Charles T. Butler (Columbus, Ga.:  The Columbus Museum, 2003), nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, 13.

“The American Sofa Table,” in Country Houses and Collections:  An Anthology, ed. Geoffrey Beard, 108-10 (N.p.:  Attingham Trust, 2002).

“Mahantongo Valley Blanket Chests,” Antiques 162, no. 4 (October 2002): 160-69.

“Eighteenth-century Philadelphia Case Furniture at Stenton,” Antiques 161, no. 5 (May 2002): 94-101.

“Queen Anne and Chippendale Chairs in Delaware,” Antiques 160, no. 3 (September 2001):  330-39.

“Delaware River Valley Chests of Drawers, 1725-1800,” Antiques 159, no. 5 (May 2001):  788-95.

“Early Connecticut Tavern Signs in the Connecticut Historical Society,” Antiques 158, no. 6 (December 2000):  892-99.

 “Dating Dunlap-Style Side Chairs,” Antiques 157, no. 5 (May 2000): 796-803.

“The American Sofa Table,” Antiques 155, no. 5 (May 1999):  744-53.

“William Savery,” in American National Biography (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1999), vol. 19, pp. 320-21.

“Labeled Randolph Chairs Rediscovered,” American Furniture 1998, ed. Luke Beckerdite (Milwaukee, Wisc.:  Chipstone, 1998), pp. 81-98.

“Truth or Consequences:  Restoration of Winterthur's Van Pelt High Chest,” Winterthur Portfolio 33, no. 1 (Spring 1998):  59-74.

“The Stratford Bureau Table:  A Re-examination,” Antiques 153, no. 5 (May 1998):  740-45.

“The Art and Science of Furniture Connoisseurship,” Antiques 152, no. 1 (July 1997):  96-103.

“The Livingston Family's Best New York Federal Furniture,” Antiques 151, no. 5 (May 1997):  716-23.

“Philadelphia Queen Anne Chairs in the Collections of Wright's Ferry Mansion,” Antiques 149, no. 5 (May 1996): 736-45.

“Financial Stabilization and Deaccessioning at The New-York Historical Society:  Background Information,” in The Sourcebook:  Museums Educating for the Future, 389-95 (American Association of Museums Annual Meeting, May 21-25, 1995).

“An Important Desk by Richard Walker of Boston,” with Frank M. Levy, Antiques 147, no. 3 (March 1995):  436-41.

“Two Massachusetts Bombé Desk-and-Bookcases,” with Michael S. Podmaniczky, Antiques 145, no. 5 (May 1994):  724-31.

“History Repeats Itself:  Another Desk Used by Washington to Sign André's Death Warrant,” Maine Antiques Digest 21, no. 11 (November 1993):  4-D.

“Change and Persistence in Revolutionary America:  American Chippendale” and selected catalogue entries in American Furniture with Related Decorative Arts, 1660-1830:  The Milwaukee Art Museum and the Layton Art Collection, ed. Gerald W. R. Ward (New York:  Hudson Hills Press, 1991), pp. 153-58, cat. nos. 59-70, 87-89.

“Priorities in Gilding Conservation from a Curatorial Perspective” in Gilded Wood:  Conservation and History, ed. Deborah Bigelow, et al. (Madison, Conn.:  Sound View Press, 1991), pp. 231-37.

“Regionalism in American Furniture Studies,” in Perspectives on American Furniture, ed. Gerald W. R. Ward (New York:  W. W. Norton & Co, 1988), pp 11-38.

"Ecclesiastical Architecture in the Reformed Tradition in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, 1790-1860" (Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 1985).

“Workmanship as Evidence:  A Model for Object Study,” Winterthur Portfolio 16, no. 4 (Winter 1981): 283-307.

The Lord's Supper in Early New England:  The Setting and the Service,” in New England Meeting House and Church:  1630-1850, ed. Peter Benes, Annual Proceedings of the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 1979 (Boston:  Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife by Boston University, 1981), pp. 124-34.

“Furniture of the Monmouth County Historical Association,” with Charles T. Lyle Antiques 117, no. 1 (January 1980):  186-205.

“A Methodological Study in the Identification of Some Important Philadelphia Chippendale Furniture.”  In American Furniture and Its Makers, ed. Ian M. G. Quimby, Winterthur Portfolio 13 (Chicago:  Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum by the University of Chicago Press, 1979) pp. 193-208.

“Some Notes on Patterns of Farmwork in the Early Nineteenth Century,” Old-Time New England 68, nos. 3-4 (Winter-Spring 1978):  69-74.

 

REVIEWS

Review of Frank L. Hohmann III, et al., Timeless Masterpiece American Brass Dial Clocks.  American Furniture 2009 (Milwaukee:  Chipstone, 2009), pp. 169-73.

Review of Gretchen Townsend Buggeln, Temples of Grace:  The Material Transformation of Connecticut’s Churches, 1790-1840.  Public Historian 26, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 84-86.

Review of Bradford L. Rauschenberg and John Bivins, Jr., The Furniture of Charleston, 1680-1820.  Winterthur Portfolio 38, no. 4 (Winter 2003): 257-63.

Review of David B. Warren, et al., American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection.  Studies in the Decorative Arts 10, no. 1 (Fall-Winter 2002-2003): 168-71.

Review of Worldly Goods:  The Arts of Early Pennsylvania, 1680-1758 by Jack Lindsey, et al. American Furniture 2000 (Milwaukee:  Chipstone, 2000), pp. 212-16.

Review of The Chair:  Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design by Galen Cranz.  American Furniture 1999 (Milwaukee:  Chipstone, 1999), pp. 288-93.

Review There's a Bed in the Piano:  The Inside Story of the American Home by Myrna Kaye. American Furniture 1999 (Milwaukee:  Chipstone, 1999), pp. 288-93.

Review of American Windsor Furniture:  Specialized Forms by Nancy Goyne Evans.  Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts 24, no. 1 (Summer 1998): 74-76.

Review of American Windsor Furniture by Nancy Goyne Evans.  Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts 23, no. 1 (Summer 1997): 105-8.

Review of Pewter in Pennsylvania German Churches by Donald M. Herr.  Winterthur Portfolio 31, no. 1 (Spring 1996):  79-81.

Review of The Dunlap Cabinetmakers:  A Tradition in Craftsmanship by Philip Zea and Donald Dunlap.  American Furniture 1995 (Milwaukee:  Chipstone, 1995), pp. 273-77.

Review of American Tables and Looking Glasses in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University by David L. Barquist.  Winterthur Portfolio 27, no. 4 (Winter 1992):  293-95.

Review of Holy Things and Profane:  Anglican Parish Churches in Colonial Virginia by Dell Upton.  Winterthur Portfolio 23, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 81-82.

Review of American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, II, Late Colonial Period:  The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles by Morrison H. Heckscher.  Winterthur Portfolio 21, no. 3-4 (Summer-Fall 1986): 307-308.

Review of American Furniture at Chipstone by Oswaldo Rodriques Roque.  The Decorative Arts Newsletter 11, no. 3 (September 1985): 16-17.

Review of 300 Years of American Seating Furniture:  Chairs and Beds from the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University by Patricia E. Kane.  The Decorative Arts Newsletter 4, no. 2 (Spring 1978):  8-9.

Review of Philadelphia Furniture and Its Makers edited by John J. Snyder.  The Decorative Arts Newsletter 2, no. 1 (Winter 1976):  14-15.