British West Indies Style: Antigua, Jamaica, Barbados, and Beyond

Maine Antiques Digest

Over 200 color photographs document the “material culture and traditions of the English island houses and the island-crafted furniture within them” in this latest book by Michael Connors that investigates and analyzes the furniture and homes of the Caribbean. Connors (an occasional contributor to M.A.D.) explains that he “set out to find undisclosed home and private collections” to avoid repetition from his previous books.

In the first chapter, “England Challenges the Spanish Main,” Connors discusses England’s expanding empire and its challenge to Spain and the other nations that were attempting to settle in the New World. The 16th and 17th centuries in the West Indies were a time of war, privateering and piracy, discovery and colonization, slavery, and the rise of plantations and a new class of wealthy plantation owners.

The subsequent chapters focus on the islands’ plantations and the styles, influences, and woods of the furniture found on the islands. In the introduction Connors acknowledges that research into domestic colonial town houses and plantation homes is scarce, possibly because of “colonialism’s actual and perceived oppression.”

The names of the furniture makers are nonexistent because it is believed that slaves with woodworking skills made much of the furniture. The photographs highlight the craftsmanship and beauty of chairs, beds, desks, tables, and more, as well as the architectural features of plantation homes and other structures.