A Preview of My Work on Richard “Dick” Poynor

A ladderback chair that was made by Richard Poynor.  The chair currently is in MESDA's collection.
Ladderback chair made by Poynor – image courtesy of MESDA

One of the works that has been going on in the background is an article I have written about chairmaker Richard “Dick” Poynor for Issue Eleven of Mortise and Tenon Magazine, a national publication that celebrates the preservation, research, and recreation of historic furniture.

This has been the culmination of over a year and a half of research on Poynor, an enslaved-turned-free chairmaker from Williamson County, Tennessee.  Building on the labor of historian Rick Warwick, I hope to bring Poynor’s name, work, and legacy to a new generation of woodworkers, historians, and general readers alike.

For the main preview, I encourage you to read what Mortise and Tenon wrote here.  It is a wonderful look into what I discuss in the article.  I further encourage you to pick up a copy of the article when it is printed in early October, or even get a subscription so that you can continue seeing the remarkable work that other researchers are doing.

Listen, if you’re thinking that this research will stay behind a paywall, don’t worry.  I can’t promise that I will be able to post the entire article here as it is laid out in Mortise and Tenon, but I will certainly make a post of some kind that is true to the work I did for the article and is honorable of Poynor and all he was.

Whether you get a copy of the magazine or you stay tuned here (or both ideally!), know that there is much more to come about Poynor.  I will be talking about his life as I know it and continue to research it, and I will also be posting about a rocking chair of his I recreated, a labor of love that would not have been possible without the guidance of Tennessee chairmaker Travis Curtis.

While there is not a ton out there on Richard “Dick” Poynor, I hope that with this article and the work on this site, his name and story become more well known.  If you’re so inclined, it would be great if you spread the word to whatever socials you’re on as I post more about him.  While you’re at it, leave me a question or comment below so we can get some conversations going about Poynor and the wider legacy of enslaved woodworkers!

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