"A fascinating study not only of the work of the 18th-century American artisan but of his place in pre-Revolutionary society." — The New Yorker In colonial America, craftsmen comprised the largest segment of the population, after farmers. They were cabinetmakers, silversmiths, pewterers, printers, painters, engravers, blacksmiths, brass button-makers, shipwrights, hatters, shoemakers, and other artisans, and they manufactured the tools, clothing, household goods, and other essential products needed to sustain life and trade in the New World. In this superb study, a distinguished American historian examines the lives and work of American craftsmen in the years before the Revolution — the golden age of colonial craftsmanship — showing them at work, at play, at worship, at school, at home, competing in their trades, striving to get ahead, and playing a dynamic role as citizens in bringing about American independence. Natural resources, special crafts of the different colonies, and New World "marketing" of those crafts are closely studied. Students of American history, culture, and the arts and crafts will find this a richly rewarding study — authoritative, well-researched, and highly readable. It is further enhanced with carefully chosen illustrations from Diderot's Encyclopédie, the great 18th-century reference work on technology, whose detailed engravings accurately represent the crafts of the period.