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Photo: Courtesy The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Mich., 55.100.3
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High chest of drawers


Object number

RIF1948

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

83 x 38 3/4 x 20 5/8 in. (210.82 x 98.43 x 52.39 cm)

Date

1760–80

Current location

The Henry Ford

Geography

Made in Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Mahogany (primary); chestnut (drawer linings, tip bars for top drawers, flat top of pediment, and guides of upper case bottom); pine (back of lower case, drawer supports and guides, stiles of lower case, glue blocks of legs, bottom boards of upper case, back boards of upper case, and transverse braces and adjacent glue blocks of upper case); yellow poplar (top of upper case, top of pediment [?], and block behind plinth); maple (backings of drawer dividers and of front rail of lower case)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Lower case: Mathematical calculations, in graphite, on top of front rail; “V” or “X,” incised on exterior backs of drawers; “X,” incised on interior bottom [at front] of upper drawer; “I,” incised on interior sides, back, and front of proper-right drawer; “L [later?],” in graphite, on exterior bottom of proper-right drawer; “I,” incised on interior bottom [at front] of center drawer; “II,” incised on interior back, sides, and front of proper-left drawer; “R [later?],” in graphite, on exterior bottom of proper-left drawer; “X,” incised on exterior back of case; “X X,” in graphite, on top of horizontal drawer divider. Upper case: “X” or “V,” incised on interior bottoms [at front] and exterior backs drawers; “I,” incised on interior drawer front and back of proper-right drawer; “L [later?],” in graphite, on exterior bottom of proper-right drawer ; “II,” incised in interior back, front, and proper-left of middle drawer; “X,” incised on exterior proper-right side of middle drawer; “III,” incised on interior back of proper-left drawer; “II,” incised on interior sides of proper-left drawer; “X,” incised on proper-left exterior side of proper-left drawer; “V V [one pointing up, one pointing down], incised on exterior back of proper-left drawer; “W” or “M,” incised on back edge of proper-left drawer bottom; “R [later?],” in graphite, on exterior bottom of proper-left drawer; “X,” proper-left exterior side of upper long drawer; “XIII,” incised on divider under top long drawer

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Mr. and Mrs. James O. Keene, Birmingham, Michigan, before 1954; sold to The Henry Ford, Deerfield, Michigan, 1955

Associated names

James O. Keene

Construction

The upper-case roof consists of several thin half-lapped boards fixed with brads and rosehead nails to the tops of the pediment backboard, the front scrollboard, and the sidewalls of the recessed platform behind the central plinth. These sidewalls are lap-jointed to the pediment backboard; the platform floor is face-nailed and toe-nailed (once) to it. The outside face of this area?s front wall serves as a recessed scrollboard. Its sidewalls provide a backing for the scrollboard, and for the crown molding?s returns, and are butt-jointed to the upper ends of the scrollboard. The length of the sidewall?s projection beyond the backboard forms the recess. The single-piece crown molding is fixed to the multi-board case sides and scrollboard with wood-filled fasteners. The single-piece scrollboard, half-blind dovetailed to the case sides, centers a simple straight-sided plinth (with later blocking behind), to the top of which is fixed a molded cap into which is doweled a removable urnform finial with turned base, reeded and fluted body and corkscrew flame. The central finial is cut in back to fit against the recessed scrollboard; the backsides of the matching, flanking finials are not carved. The pediment backboard is fixed with three rosehead nails at each of its lateral extremities into rabbets in the case sides and with brads to blocking within the closed pediment. The four boards below (the lower one and a narrow strip below it appear to be later) bear prominent vertical saw marks and are fixed with rosehead nails into rabbets in the case sides. The joints between the upper-case two-board ceiling and case sides are concealed. At each corner of the ceiling?s underside is a small vertical rectangular block. Transverse battens are screwed into the case sides between the blocks, and a longitudinal batten fixed to the inside of the case base has a cutout aligning with the width of the central small drawer. Tip bars are fixed to the case sides with rosehead nails. The upper-case drawer dividers meet the case sides in half-blind dovetail joints. The vertical dividers between the upper small drawers meet the scrollboard above and the drawer divider below in similar fashion. Medial supports for the upper drawers are half-lapped to the drawer divider in front and set into grooves in the case back. The latter joints are reinforced by nails through the outside of the backboards. Drawer guides are nailed in cutouts to the tops of these supports. Later long-drawer supports are fixed with modern nails to the case sides, as is a bottom-drawer support, which does not sit on the case bottom. There are no glue blocks behind the bottom rail. The two-piece upper-case bottom meets the case sides in dovetail joints almost entirely covered by transverse battens, where are fixed to its lateral extremities with rosehead nails. There are kerf marks on the bottom of the case sides? inside faces. A single-piece waist molding is joined to the case sides with wood-filled fasteners and by cut nails toe-nailed through the front of the case bottom. The lipped, graduated, thumb-molded and kerf-marked drawer fronts meet their somewhat shorter flat-topped drawer sides in dovetail joints, with rather crudely cut pins of varying configuration and spacing, with half-pins above and below. The deeper small drawer bottoms are perpendicular to the fronts; the long-drawer and shallow small-drawer bottom are parallel. They are all chamfered at the front and sides, where they fit into grooves. The drawer sides are full-depth; some have later applied runners. The bottoms are fixed to their flat-topped backs with rosehead nails, brads, and some wood pins. The drawer-side tails extend beyond the plane of the drawer backs. The two-board straight-skirted lower-case backboard meets the single-board, scallop-skirted lower-case sides in dovetail joints with large half-pins above and below. The top rail of the lower case is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides. Veneering at the front stiles conceals the joints between them and the case sides. These drawer?s guides are also nailed to the case sides. Small-drawer supports are half-lapped and nailed to the skirtboard in front and both set and wedged into grooves in the backboard. The legs are of the ?detachable? sort, held into the routed-out corners by vertical glue blocks glued and screwed into skirtboard, case side, and backboard. They are square-sectioned, having angular knees, shins, and calves, with rounded ankles and full-disc shod pad feet. The back legs? knees project beyond the plane of the case back. The knee brackets are held in with nails and glue. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, August 6, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

See also


Bibliography

Paul L. Grigaut, "A Michigan Collection," Antiques 66, no. 4 (October 1954): 292, ill.
Robert Bishop, How to Know American Antique Furniture (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), 46–47, fig. 44.
Katharine Bryant Hagler, American Queen Anne Furniture: 1720–1755, exh. cat. (Dearborn, Mich.: The Edison Institute, 1976), 25, right, ill.