Field desk, owned by Peter Muhlenberg Jr., probably American, c. 1810-1815
Based on its hardware and construction details, this portable field desk was probably first owned by Peter Muhlenberg Jr. (1787-1844), who served as an army captain in the War of 1812. Inside the desk are 12 cubby holes, some with handwritten paper labels. One is inscribed “Ordinance Papers.” Although slightly later in date than a desk Frederick Muhlenberg might have used as Speaker, its design speaks to the need for portable furniture.
Plate, white salt-glazed stoneware, England, c. 1765
The elaborate dot, diaper, and basketweave pattern of this plate exactly matches pieces of a plate rim found during the 2013 archaeology field school. Because this type of ceramic was fashionable in the 1760s and 1770s, it is likely that the plate came from a set owned by John Schrack, who built The Speaker’s House in 1763. Alternatively, it may have been from a set acquired by Frederick and Catharine Muhlenberg at the time of their 1771 marriage and later brought to The Speaker’s House when they moved there in 1782. The same pattern has been excavated in Colonial Williamsburg and at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Pocketwatch, owned by Peter Muhlenberg (1846-1807), probably made in England, c. 1800
According to family tradition, this gold pocketwatch was owned by Frederick Muhlenberg’s brother, Peter. It is engraved on the outside of the case with the initials “P M.” In Peter Muhlenberg’s will of 1807, he bequeathed his gold pocketwatch marked “P M” along with a pair of brass-barreled pistols to his son, Peter Muhlenberg Jr. It is possible that Frederick Muhlenberg may have been the original owner of the watch, as he owned a gold pocketwatch when he died in 1801.
Portrait of Frederick Muhlenberg, c. 1838
This striking portrait of Frederick Muhlenberg is one of two painted about 1838 by Jacob Eichholtz of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for Muhlenberg descendants. It was based on the original portrait made in 1790 by Joseph Wright, now owned by the National Portrait Gallery.
Piano, made by Charles Albrecht, Philadelphia, c. 1790-1795
Constructed of figured mahogany with square tapered legs, this piano was made by German immigrant Charles Albrecht (c. 1760-1848) of Philadelphia in the early 1790s. A prolific instrument maker, Albrecht made at least 93 pianos by 1798. In 1803, he made a piano for Peter Muhlenberg, Frederick’s brother, and later that year purchased The Speaker’s House from Francis and Mary (Muhlenberg) Swaine. Albrecht lived there until 1808, when he returned to Philadelphia. Frederick Muhlenberg owned both a piano and a violin when he died in 1801.