The name of the largest and best known Utopist sect in America in the 19th century. Derived from “Shaking Quakers,” because during their religious ceremonies the faithful danced, shaking their hands and feet to free themselves of their sins. The Shakers, also known as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, achieved their greatest success in the 1840s, when around six thousand “brothers and sisters” lived in 19 well-organized, self-sufficient villages in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Maine, Ohio and Indiana.
The Shakers were well known for their philosophy on life, based on the principles of egalitarianism and the community, as well as for the excellence of their work. Their furniture are world famous for its fine craftsmanship, as are other products such as fabrics, baskets and jams. And they are the inventors of numerous objects which have entered our daily lives, such as the clothes-pegs, the circular saw, the screw propeller and the flat broom. Shaker furniture is built according to the principle of absolute harmony between form and function, and is marked by a special elegance, a simple and austere beauty.