“Individuals consecrated themselves and their property to the church in order to
create a heavenly kingdom on earth. They separated themselves from the world and gave up individual property because they felt such an arrangement eased earthly burdens and allowed the inner spirit to root and blossom. Community property was based on the Shakers’ idea of “union,” of coming together to help one another toward perfection.” (Victorian Fancy Goods, 115)
The Shakers based their community and system of governing around the central themes of their religion, putting the values of simplicity and minimalism. The 1845 Millennial Laws prohibited fancy articles and decoration that were merely ornamental and whimsical (116). These rules governed the daily life and style of the Shakers, from how they dressed and acted to what they could have for architecture and property.
The Shakers believed in a simplistic outlook on material possessions, the entire Shaker community was a commune that equally shared the labor and property attained through hard labor or trade. The Shakers valued quality and durability over quantity, so their products were known for their reliability and elegance. They did not believe in the need for material possession beyond what was necessary but they did produce enough products in order to be successful entrepreneurs.
Material goods were also not the personal property of one Shaker or another. They were a commune and so the goods and income generated by a Shaker were the property of all the Shakers in that community. When a convert wanted to join a Shaker society, they had to turn over all their material possessions and wealth to the commune.