Mack Cox

The first of two short lectures will explore early Frankfort furniture dating from about 1795 to 1820. The second documents decorative inlay in early Kentucky furniture from the same period. The first will be developed for this presentation and the latter was developed for a conference organized by Winterthur Museum in Delaware and the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art titled “The Wonder of Wood: Decorative Inlay and Marquetry in Europe and America, 1600-1900” that occurred in April of 2022. Both will be fast-paced, graphics-rich introductions to Kentucky furniture made before the steamboat era when the Commonwealth was commercially isolated from the east coast by a vast wilderness and was part of the early American West.

Mack Cox is a researcher and collector of early Kentucky-made furniture. A Kentucky native, Mack received BS and MS degrees in geology from Eastern Kentucky University and pursued an oil and gas career from which he retired in 2017. He and his wife Sharon began collecting early Kentucky material about 2005, and their collection was covered in the July/August 2011 issue of The Magazine Antiques (“The Kentucky Collection of Sharon and Mack Cox” by Daniel Kurt Ackermann). In 2013, their collection covered 34 pages, and was described as “one of the finest assemblages of antebellum Kentucky material” in the book Collecting Kentucky 1790-1860 by Lacer & Howard.

Mack currently serves on the executive committee and board of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation. He also serves on advisory boards for the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums in Virginia, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in North Carolina, and The Magazine Antiques in New York City. He, along with his wife, Sharon are regional representatives for MESDA’s Object Database and have submitted over 100 surveys of Kentucky material. He has lectured at numerous Kentucky locations and for the Decorative Arts Trust in Philadelphia, the Washington, D.C. Decorative Arts Forum, Winterthur Museum (Delaware) and the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Colonial Williamsburg, and Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts.

Kentucky furniture is not well documented and the connections to Kentucky are being lost at an alarming rate. Mack’s primary mission in retirement is to discover and document Kentucky furniture groups to guide future studies and he is considered a leading authority on Kentucky furniture.

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