Shakers worked to be “in the world but not of the world.” The Shakers were able to support themselves in their temporal needs by making items to sell as they presented themselves to the outside world by the usefulness and quality of these items.
Depending on which community is considered, the most important businesses engaged in by the Shakers were the growing, processing, packaging, and selling of garden seeds; the growing, gathering and sale of herbs and other plant materials made into medicinal extracts, powders, tinctures, syrups, and pills; the manufacture of flat corn brooms, whisk brooms, and horsehair brushes; the tanning and sale of leathers and skins; and the sale of fruits, vegetables, and wool raised on their farms.
Unfortunately, many of the most lucrative products made by the Shakers leave a very light imprint on most museum collections, whereas comparatively minor industries, such as the manufacture of chairs, oval boxes, baskets, cooper’s ware, spinning wheels, hand cards, poplarware, and cloaks, dominate exhibitions of the Shakers work. Fortunately, the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon holds significant collection of both categories of products made for sale.
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