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Craftsman's Handbook

Henry L. Lapp, American, 1862 - 1904

Henry Lapp was born to Amish parents in 1862 on a farm in Leacock Township, near the town of Bird-in-Hand in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he trained as a carpenter and cabinetmaker in his father’s shop. Lapp was deaf and partially mute, so when he established his own business, he made drawings of his furniture to assist in the promotion and sale of his work. Customers eagerly sought out Lapp’s furniture and wooden household and farm implements because it was finely crafted. By the end of the 1800s, his business had expanded to include paint and hardware.

Lapp’s pen, ink, and watercolor drawings in the handbook provide a unique record of his work. A facsimile of A Craftsman’s Handbook was published in 1975 by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with an introduction and notes by Beatrice B. Garvan, a curator in the American art department from 1973 to 1989.


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