The Shaker movement in America began in 1774 when Mother Ann Lee emigrated from Manchester, England, with a small group of followers, and settled in New York State. Despite impoverished beginnings, the Shakers flourished in the early nineteenth century, and by 1840 there were four to six thousand members living in eighteen principle communities from Maine to Kentucky. Turning away from society, they lived in large families that were both celibate and communal. In striving for heaven on earth, they created a visual environment of such harmony and quiet power that it continues to impress observers today, when the Shakers have all but passed from the American scene. The many works presented in this beautiful volume reveal the Shaker commitment to excellence in all matters. The chairs, cases of drawers, work stands, baskets, oval boxes, wheelbarrows, stoves, looms, and even tailoring tools have a purity of form that transcends mere utility and elevates our appreciation beyond a sense of function. This volume draws objects from forty collections, including extant Shaker villages, the work of some thirty known individuals, and as many artists who remain anonymous.