Caswell County, NC., mid 19th century, signed in black paint verso "T. Day / R..." mahogany, mahogany veneer, white pine and poplar, shaped swivel dressing mirror with stylized full frame support, upper serpentine drawer above three long drawers, stylized applied columns with scrolled feet. 69 x 40 x 21 in. Thomas Day, a master cabinet maker and skilled artisan and architectural woodworker, was a free man of color living in North Carolina during the pre-Civil War era. Born in 1801 in Virginia, he settled in Caswell County in the late 1820s and opened his shop on Main Street in Milton. In an area of prosperous tobacco planters, his clientele soon became the elite of the county, North Carolina, and Virginia. A strong patron of his work was Governor David S. Reid (1851-1854) and it was with Governor Reid's collection of eighteen pieces that in 1975, the North Carolina Museum of History held an exhibition of Day's work. According to the late Patricia Marshall, "This exhibition was a big step toward rescuing the African American cabinet maker's career and craft from the shadows of history." While the curvilinear designs and symmetry of Day's pieces represent his time, Jonathan Prown writes in the Winterthur Portfolio, 1998, that Thomas Day's work was "classically inspired urban norms of the period in highly innovative ways, but which also diverged from those norms." Thomas Day died in 1863 and is buried in Caswell County. Marshall, Patricia Phillips and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll. Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. North Carolina Museum of History. Thomas Day Cabinet Maker. Exhibition Catalog; Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of History, 1975. Prown, Jonathan. The Furniture of Thomas Day: A Reevaluation. Winterthur Portfolio 33 (Winter 1998). Originally acquired by noted North Carolina attorney and politician, Bartholomew Figures Moore, Sr. (1816-1887) and his wife, Lucy Williams Boddie (1816-1887), it has remained in the family passing down the line to son, Van Boddie Moore (1855-1917) and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Crudup (born ab. 1860), who bequethed it to their daughter Lucy Catherine Moore Ruffin (1899-1964), and finally to Elizabeth Moore Ruffin (1931-2015), great granddaughter of Bartholomew Figures Moore, Sr. Ms. Ruffin, known in her lifetime as a passionate family historian, donated the Civil War papers of her great grandfather to the Southern Historical Collection of the University of North Carolina's Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. From the Estate of the late Elizabeth Moore Ruffin
Fair overall condition; several areas of veneer loss especially to stiles and lower rail.