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“E” is for Elfe, Thomas (ca. 1719-1775)

“E” is for Elfe, Thomas (ca. 1719-1775). Cabinetmaker. Elfe was most likely born in London and immigrated to Charleston by 1745. He is the individual most often associated with the pre-Revolutionary cabinetmaking industry in Charleston due to the survival of one of his account books. The book contains information that addresses not only Elfe’s business and personal accounts, but also the structure and mechanics of a successful urban cabinet shop—including: the types of labor and raw materials utilized, a list of clients and associated artisans with whom he conducted business. His clients during the years ranged from members of Charleston’s elite to the artisan class. Elfe had highly diversified interests aside from his cabinetmaking. Thomas Elfe owned and leased numerous properties, loaned money, speculated in real estate, served as a jurist, and was philanthropic with his income.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.