This early Victorian piano stool belonged to Nathan Dickerson Poole (1843-1912), who inherited his father’s farm in Edward’s Ferry in 1870, and built himself a grand Gothic-Italianate home the following year. Mr. Poole was married twice, but had no children; the piano stool was donated to us in 1966 by Katherine Poole (his niece) and Mary Douglas Heinrich.

The stool is mahogany veneered with a needlepointed seat, wool on silk, in a floral pattern. It is relatively plain in form, with an “abacus” (scrolled platform) base and an undecorated center pillar. The seat is attached to a metal rod, allowing it to swivel; the underside of the seat shows a nice circular wear pattern in the wood, showing it got a fair amount of use/abuse. There are no maker’s marks.

It can be seen in the Beall-Dawson House along with our 1834 Chickering pianoforte, but they do not go together; the pianoforte is one of our few original Beall family pieces, and predates the little stool. The stool itself predates Mr. Poole’s fabulous house (see photo at bottom of this post), but it’s not clear if he inherited it from his parents along with their earlier, smaller farmhouse, or if it came from one of his wives’ families, or if he bought it used… it’s fun to speculate, and perhaps a little research into Poole family inventories will shed some light on the matter.

I always regard this as one of my favorite pieces in the museum, but when it came time to write this blog post I couldn’t really figure out why. Perhaps it’s because way back when I started my job, this was one of the first pieces I encountered in the museum that could be so definitely tied to a person and a place (other than the Beall family), and wasn’t just a lovely antique – history unknown – donated in the 1960s to furnish our newly acquired museum. Lovely antiques are, well, lovely, but to my mind something is missing without that human connection, even a tenuous one. Also, I sometimes feel a little sorry for this little piece, overshadowed (sometimes literally) as it is by Margaret Beall’s Pianoforte. Next time you tour the Beall-Dawson House, spare a moment to admire Nathan Dickerson Poole’s Piano Stool, won’t you?

Nathan Dickerson Poole's house, on Edward's Ferry Road, ca. 1902.

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