With its raised-tablet crests, carved sunflower ornament and reeded legs, this sofa exemplifies a popular form in Federal New York. Sofas of this model have traditionally been attributed to the partnership of Abraham Slover and Jacob B. Taylor. The attribution is based upon their similarity to a labeled example illustrated in The Magazine Antiques (November 1923), p. 215. However, as the 1802 edition of the New-York Book of Prices indicates, this pattern was widely disseminated and undoubtedly made by many competing chairmakers. In addition, a surviving account book of the chairmaker Fenwick Lyell indicates that Lyell made furniture for many well-known New York cabinetmakers, including chair frames for Slover and Taylor. (Manuscript account book of Fenwick Lyell, Monmouth County Historical Society, Freehold, New Jersey, 15, discussed in part in Charles F. Montgomery, American Furniture, The Federal Period (New York, 1966), p.113.) A similar sofa is illustrated below, fig. 1.
Abraham A. Slover appears first as "cabinet-maker" as early as 1792 and continued to work alone in 1793. By 1794, he had moved to 30 Cortlandt Street and a year later was in partnership with a Mr. Kortwright. His partnership with Kortwright was short-lived and he was listed alone in 1796 and 1797. From 1798 to 1802, he was working alone at 94 Broad Street. He collaborated with Jacob Taylor at that address between 1802 and 1804, after which he is listed as a "grocer". Taylor is listed as working at 27 Broadway between 1804 and 1807, but little else is known about him. (For more information, see William C. Ketchum Jr., American Cabinetmakers, marked American Furniture 1640-1940 (New York, 1995); Ethel Hall Bjerkoe, The Cabinetmakers of America (Garden City, NY, 1957) and Phelps Warren, "Setting the Record Straight: Slover and Taylor, New York Cabinetmaker," The Magazine Antiques (October 1961) pp. 350-351.)