Reading for TOEFL – Duncan Phyfe

Reading for TOEFL – Duncan Phyfe

Question 1-10 refer to the following passage

Duncan Phyfe made some of the most beautiful furniture found in America. His family name was originally Fife, and he was born in Scotland in 1768. In 1784, the Fife family immigrated to Albany, New York where Duncan’s father opened a cabinetmaking shop. Duncan followed in his father’s footsteps and was appren-ticed to a cabinetmaker. After completing his training, Duncan moved to New York City.

Duncan Fife was first mentioned in the 1792 NYC Directory as a furniture “joiner” in business at 2 Broad Street. Two years later, he moved, expanded his business, and changed his name to Phyfe. He was a quietliving, God-fearing young man who felt his new name would prob-ably appeal to potential customers who were definitely anti-British in this post– Revolutionary War period.

Duncan Phyfe’s name distinguished him from his contemporaries. Although the new spelling helped him better compete with French émigré craftsmen, his new name had more to do with hanging it on a sign over his door stoop.

The artisans and merchants who came to America discovered a unique kind of freedom. They were no longer restricted by class and guild traditions of Europe. For the first time in history, a man learned that by working hard, he could build his business based on his own name and reputation and quality of work. Phyfe’s workshop apparently took off immediately. At the peak of his success, Phyfe employed 100 craftsmen. Some economic historians point to Phyfe as having employed division of labor and an assembly line. What his workshop produced shows Phyfe’s absolute dedi-cation to quality in workmanship. Each piece of furniture was made of the best available materials. He was reported to have paid $1,000 for a single Santo Domingo mahogany log.

Phyfe did not create new designs. Rather, he borrowed from a broad range of the period’s classical styles, Empire, Sheraton, Regency, and French Classi-cal among them. Nevertheless, Phyfe’s highquality craftsmanship established him as America’s patriotic interpreter of European design in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Although the number of pieces pro-duced by Duncan Phyfe’s workshop is enormous, comparatively few marked or labeled pieces have been found extant. In antiques shops and auctions, collectors have paid $11,000 for a card table, $24,200 for a tea table, and $93,500 for a sewing table.

1. Based on the information in the passage, what can be inferred about Duncan Phyfe?

  • a. He was an excellent businessman with a good sense of craftsmanship and design.
  • b. He regretted that Great Britain no longer governed New York City.
  • c. He built all his furniture by himself in a workshop in Santo Domingo.
  • d. He joined the cabinetmakers’ guild after he moved to Scotland in 1792.

2. According to the passage, which of the following does the author imply?

  • a. Duncan Fife and his father had the same first name.
  • b. Duncan Fife worked for his father in Scotland.
  • c. Duncan Fife and his father were in the same business.
  • d. Duncan Phyfe made over 100 differ-ent kinds of tables.

3. Which sentence in paragraph 2 explains Duncan’s name change?

  • a. The first sentence
  • b. The second sentence
  • c. The third sentence
  • d. None of the above.

4. Which choice does the word “it” refer to in line 27?

  • a. His spelling
  • b. His chair
  • c. His French
  • d. His name

5. Which choice is closest in meaning to the word “guild” in line 31?

  • a. Verdict of a jury
  • b. Organization of craftsmen
  • c. Political party of émigrés
  • d. Immigrant’s club

6. Which of the following does the word “freedom” in line 30 refer to?

  • a. No longer restricted
  • b. Restricted
  • c. By working hard
  • d. Took off

7. Where in the passage could the following sentence be added to the passage?

Every joint was tight, and the carved elements were beautifully executed.

  • a. After the word “workmanship” in paragraph 5
  • b. After the word “cabinetmaker” in paragraph 1
  • c. After the word “stoop” in paragraph 3
  • d. After the word “table” in the last para-graph

8. In his business, Duncan Phyfe used all of the following EXCEPT:

  • a. division of labor
  • b. an assembly line
  • c. continental designs
  • d. the least expensive materials

9. Based on information in the passage, what can be inferred about Duncan Phyfe’s death?

  • a. He died in the eighteenth century.
  • b. He died in Albany.
  • c. He died in the nineteenth century.
  • d. He died in Scotland.

10. The author implies that

  • a. furniture from Duncan Phyfe’s work-shop no longer exists
  • b. furniture from Duncan Phyfe’s work-shop costs a lot of money today
  • c. furniture from Duncan Phyfe’s work-shop was ignored by New Yorkers
  • d. furniture from Duncan Phyfe’s work-shop was made by his father

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *