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Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's, New York
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Chest-on-chest


Object number

RIF1576

Maker

Maker attributed Ebenezer Allen, Jr., 1755–1793
Maker attributed Cornelius Allen, 1767–1835
Maker formerly attributed John Goddard, American, 1723–1785

Dimensions

85 x 44 x 22 1/4 in. (215.9 x 111.76 x 56.52 cm) Oculi, interior diameter: 5 1/2 in. (13.97 cm) Oculi, exterior diameter: 7 1/4 in. (18.42 cm)

Date

1785–90

Current location

Private collection

Geography

Made in New Bedford, Massachusetts, formerly said to have been made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Mahogany (primary); mahogany (blocks at top of case, some blocks at interior case bottom, and horizontal blocks on feet); hickory (spring locks); pine (all other secondary wood)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Upper case: “W[?],” incised on exterior of proper-left upper drawer back; “1,” in graphite, on interior fronts [at proper-right] of drawers in upper case; “4,” in graphite, on interior fronts [at proper-left] of drawers in upper case; illegible graphite [A?], on interior bottoms of upper drawers; mathematical figures, in graphite, on exterior bottom of proper-right upper drawer; "B," “C,” and “D[?],” in graphite, on interior bottom of upper long drawers [from top to bottom]; illegible graphite [part of D?], on interior front of lower long drawer; “C,” in graphite, on divider under upper long drawer; “D[?],” in graphite, on divider under middle long drawer ; “1,” in chalk, on proper-right interior side of case top and on adjacent proper-right upper case side; “2,” in chalk, on proper-left interior side of case top and on adjacent proper-left upper case side; “3,” in chalk, on proper-right interior side of case bottom and on adjacent proper-right lower case side; “4,” in chalk, on proper-left interior side of case bottom and on adjacent proper-left lower case side; “1” through “3,” in chalk, on proper-right rear post [beginning at level of middle long drawer and progressing to level of upper drawers]; “4” through “6,” in chalk, on proper-left rear post [beginning at level of middle long drawer and progressing to level of upper drawers]; “Top,” in chalk, on underside of case top Lower case: “1” through “4,” in graphite, on interior corners of drawer fronts and backs [from proper-right front clockwise to proper-left front]; “A” though “C,” in graphite, on interior bottoms of lower three drawers [from bottom to top]; “B,” in chalk, on interior back of second drawer from top; “1” through “3,” in chalk, bottoms of drawer dividers [from bottom to top] and at corresponding heights on rear posts; “1[?],” in chalk, on proper-right case side at level of bottom drawer; “3,” in chalk, on proper-right interior case side at level of upper drawer and on adjacent interior case top; “4,” in chalk, on proper-left interior case side at level of upper drawer and on adjacent interior case top; “2,” in chalk, on proper-left interior case top towards front; “2,” in chalk, on proper-left interior case side at level of bottom drawer and probably on adjacent interior case bottom; mathematical calculations, in graphite, on exterior top of lower case

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Charles R. Morson (died 1929), New York, before 1926; sold to Mrs. J. Amory Haskell (née Margaret Moore Riker, 1864–1942), New York; consigned by her estate to Parke Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, November 8–11, 1944, lot 832. C. W. Lyon, Inc., New York, 1945. Private collection

Associated names

R. W. Burnham
Charles R. Morson
Mrs. J. Amory Haskell
Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc.
C. W. Lyon, Inc.

Construction

The upper-case roof consists of several thin boards nailed with brads to the top of the pediment blackboard, the tops of the single-board case sides, the top of the scrollboard, and to blocking within the closed pediment. Three reeded and fluted spheroidal finials with corkscrew flames sit upon rectilinear plinths with plain caps face-nailed to them with brads. The central plinth has six flutes on its front and four on its side faces; the flanking plinths have five flutes on their outside faces only and are toe-nailed through their back faces into the blocks atop the upper-case quarter-columns. At the top of the closed pediment is a concavity which corresponds to nail holes and shadows on the vertical portion of the central finial?s backside. The single-piece crown molding is toe-nailed to the case side and face-nailed to the scrollboard. The thumb-molded scrollboard plaques are attached by invisible means, presumably from within the pediment. The lower nose-and-cove portions of the crown molding (with an additional outside cove profile) frame, and are slightly shy of, the three-quarter-round voids which flank the central plinth. These lower portions are let into the crown molding near its upper termini above and into the molding beneath the central plinth below in mitre joints. The pediment backboard is fixed with rosehead nails to the back of the two-board upper-case ceiling, which is dovetailed to the kerf-marked single-board upper case sides. The outside edges of the two horizontal half-lapped upper-case backboards are slightly chamfered. The boards are fixed with rosehead and other nails to rabbets in the case sides?the upper is nailed with one rosehead to the back of the ceiling, the lower is nailed to the back of the upper-case bottom board. Within the upper case are three vertical battens?one in each rear corner and one in the rear center, set into grooves in the ceiling and tenoned through the case bottom. Drawer supports as well as guides and blocking are set into grooves in the corner battens. The drawer supports are also fixed with rosehead nails to the pine backing for the upper-case stiles. A drawer support and guide for the two upper small drawers is set into a groove in the central batten. The ends of the scrollboards and drawer dividers meet the case stiles in dovetail joints. The bottom rail is set in grooves therein. Behind the scrollboard and the bottom rail are five and four longitudinal chamfered glue blocks respectively. The vertical divider between the two upper drawers is set into a groove in the scrollboard above and is dovetailed to the horizontal divider below. The boards which function as case stiles are double-tenoned through the upper-case bottom, which is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides, with thick-necked pins of varying configuration, with large half-pins in front and small half-pins in back. In the front corners between the case sides and stiles are fluted quarter-columns with rectangular blocks above and blocks visible through the upper case-bottom below. They consist of separate abaci, capitals, shafts, bases and plinths. The single-piece waist molding, positioned to fit over the top of the lower case, is face-nailed with brads. The upper case contains two small and four long drawers with lipped, graduated, thumb-molded, prominently kerf-marked fronts which meet their flush, flat-topped sides in dovetail joints having finely cut slender pins with half-pins above and below. The single-board drawer bottoms are parallel to the front and chamfered at the front and sides, where they fit into grooves. Full-length runners are glued into the corners between drawer side and bottom, and the bottoms are fixed to their drawer backs with rosehead nails. The underside of the small-drawer bottoms have touch-latches fixed without nails. The case and drawer construction of the lower case are similar to those of the upper case, except for stop-fluted corner quarter columns and a base molding fixed to the bottom of the case with face-nails and wood-filled fasteners. The feet consist of vertical blocks attached directly to the case bottom and flanked by horizontal blocks, the whole faced with ogee brackets. The rear feet are configured similarly, except for their backs, which are straight-profiled incurvate boards set into vertical grooves in the side-facing brackets. The back-facing edge of the side rear brackets have an ogee profile which does not project beyond the plane of the lower-case back. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, July 14, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

See also


Bibliography

"R. W. Burnham advertisement," Antiques 3, no. 4 (April 1923): 152, ill.
Luke Vincent Lockwood, Colonial Furniture in America, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926), vol. 1, pp. 352, 354, fig. 20.
Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, The Americana Collection of the Late Mrs. J. Amory Haskell, Part Four, sale cat. (November 8–11, 1944), 194–95, lot 832, ill.
"C. W. Lyon, Inc., advertisement," Antiques 47, no. 1 (January 1945): 1, ill.
Harold Sack, "Restorations in American Furniture – what is acceptable," Antiques 89, no. 1 (January 1966): 116, ill.
Jack O'Brien, "A New Bedford Masterpiece," Antiques 171, no. 5 (May 2007): 142 –144, 145, footnote 23, fig. 11.
Brock Jobe, Gary R. Sullivan, and Jack O'Brien, Harbor and Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710–1850 (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2009), 417, entry 62n12.
Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 59n29.