What is a Pewter Press?
James Logan's 1752 estate inventory lists a "Pewter Press" valued at one pound in the Stenton Back Dining Room. Despite its own low value, the press contained contents worth over 15 pounds: 27 dishes, 60 plates, 4 pairs brass candlesticks, and "3 old water plates & one basin." In 1935, William Macpherson Hornor, Jr. published Blue Book: Philadelphia Furniture, William Penn to George Washington, including plate 49, a walnut case with glazed doors, over two deep drawers, standing on ogee-bracket feet. The Blue Book was part guide to antiques, part history, and part social directory. In 1935, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Goddard Leach owned this case, which Hornor believed to be the Logan pewter press. A Logan descendant herself, Mrs. Leach bequeathed said "pewter press" to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1976, and it has been on loan to Stenton almost exclusively since that time. Seeing English bookcases sowed doubtabout Hornor's description of this object. Was it more likely a bookcase and not a pewter press? What we now believe to be the Pewter Press was hidden in plain sight at the Thompson-Neely House in Washington's Crossing and has been on loan at Stenton from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission since 2014. Image: Pewter Press, c.1730-1750, pine (perhaps painted originally), Philadelphia (possibly Germantown); drawer brasses replaced original wood pulls. On loan to Stenton from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, bequest of Robert Restalrig Logan.
Image Captions: 1) Bookcase, c.1760-1790, walnut, likely Philadelphia, original Chippendale-style brasses. The shelves, which align with the horizontal muntins, are not adjustable. On loan to Stenton from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, bequest of Mrs. Henry Goddard Leach. Stenton interprets this object as a Logan family bookcase in the gentleman's office. 2) The "pewter press" in 1935 as a case for china display in the Leach's Manhattan apartment shares a page in Hornor's Blue Book with James Logan's bottle chest on a Colonial Revival frame in Maria Dickinson Logan's Germantown house, Loudoun. The bottle chest is in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection at the Philadelphia History Museum. 3) Robert Restalrig Logan at Sarobia, his Bucks County house, seated in front of the Pewter Press when it still had wooden drawer knobs. He might have owned James Logan's Peter Stretch clock (so much reflection on the dial), present whereabouts unknown. This Logan bequeathed his land, house, and its contents to the State of Pennsylvania. He was a spiritualist and a cat-crazy man. Photo, Stenton Archives, gift of Coryndon Luxmoore.