Starr Antiques

Starr Antiques

William King Silhouette

(Item: SS-KING)



Paper identification taped to back :

"Mayor Jonathan Brace Born 1754 Hartford YALE graduate 1779 Died 1837 Hartford Conn, property T Brace Hartford 1852."

BRACE, Jonathan, (1754 - 1837)


BRACE, Jonathan, a Representative from Connecticut; born in Harwinton, Conn., November 12, 1754; pursued preparatory studies; was graduated from Yale College in 1779; studied law; was admitted to the bar in Bennington, Vt., in 1779 and commenced practice in Pawlet, Vt.; moved to Manchester, Vt., in 1782 and continued the practice of law; member of the council of censors to revise the constitution; prosecuting attorney for Bennington County 1784-1785; moved to Glastonbury, Conn., in January 1786 but was not admitted to the Connecticut bar until 1790; member of the general assembly 1788 and 1791-1794 and was chosen assistant in the council in May 1798; moved to Hartford, Conn., in 1794; judge of the city court from 1797 until 1815, with the exception of two years; elected as a Federalist to the Fifth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Joshua Coit; reelected to the Sixth Congress and served from December 3, 1798, until his resignation in 1800; assistant in the council of the State 1802-1818; appointed prosecuting attorney for Hartford County in December 1807 and served until May 1809, when he resigned; appointed judge of the county court and of probate in May 1809; continued as judge of the county court until 1821 and as judge of probate until 1824; mayor of Hartford 1815-1824; member of the State senate in 1819 and 1820; died in Hartford, Conn., August 26, 1837; interment in the Old North Cemetery.




William King was a man of many talents but, as some might say, with a wayward disposition. We know King as a cabinet maker, turner, and profilist. He was born sometime in the last half of the 18th century in Salem, Massachusetts. While considered by many to be a genius, he also bore the qualities of a scamp.

In 1785, King was mentioned in the diary of Reverend William Bentley as living with King’s father-in-law, Deacon Phippen. A 1787 diary entry by Rev. Bentley stated:

A William King related to the family of Hodges, Webb, Stone & Mason by their wives, after having been long absent in the West Indies, about four years ago returned, and married a daughter of Deacon Phippen, by whom he had one child & the prospect of another. This W.K. being very capricious left his family, without any warning wrote a letter of his intentions to abscond, without be pressed for debt, or other visible reasons. He was pursued, apprehended near East Haven in Connecticut, by the owner of his Sulky & Horse, gave his note for 16 pounds damage, and has returned again after a fortnight’s absence.

Alice Van Leer Carrick, Shades of our Ancestors, pgs. 46-47.

In 1789, King was apparently still living with his family since he was advertising in the Salem Mercury as an ivory-turner selling canes, dice, backgammon boards, billiard balls and the like.

Then in 1796, Rev. Bentley wrote:

News from Philadelphia, that Wm. King, belonging to a good family in this Town, after having dragged his family from Town to Town, left a note that he meant to drown himself and disappeared. It is supposed that he means to ramble unencumbered. The family are to return to Salem.

Through known advertisements, it appears that King began cutting profiles around 1804. In that year, his advertisements also mentioned his turned works of ivory, wood and iron. In 1805, King advertised in Boston and no longer mentioned his turnings. In 1806, he was in Hanover, NH and claimed to have cut more than 20,000 silhouettes in Salem, Newburyport, Portsmouth, Portland and all of their adjoining towns. 

Despite King’s boast of cutting so many silhouettes, examples are difficult to find and much sought after. In her important book Shades of Our Ancestors, Ms. Carrick called him one of her favorite hollow-cutters. As she said, King had a knack of “seeing people agreeably.”



Circa:  1800 Period:  Federal
W. 6″  Ht. 6 5/8″ 

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