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Photo: Courtesy The Chipstone Foundation, Fox Point, Wis., 1964.4 Photography by Gavin Ashworth
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Document cabinet

Object number



Maker John Townsend, American, 1732–1809


27 3/4 x 25 7/8 x 12 7/8 in. (70.485 x 65.723 x 32.703 cm)


probably 1755

Current location

Private collection


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


Mahogany (primary); mahogany (drawer linings); white pine (case bottom and back)


"John Townsend / Newport," in graphite, on bottom board and on outside of bottom left-hand drawer


"A," "B," "C," and "D," in graphite, on backs of drawers in proper right compartment and "E," "F," "G," and "H," in graphite, on backs of drawers in proper left compartment




Frederick Howard Reed, England; consigned by his executor Charles Howard Reed, to Christie, Manson and Wood, Ltd., London, November 16, 1955, lot 235; sold to John S. Walton, New York; sold to Polly Mariner Stone (1898–1995) and Stanley Stone (1896–1987), Fox Point, Wisconsin; bequeathed by Stanley Stone to The Chipstone Foundation, Fox Point, Wisconsin, 1987; consigned to Christie's, New York, January 19, 21 and 23, 2012, lot 113

Associated names

Frederick Howard Reed
Christie, Manson & Woods, Ltd., London
Stanley Stone
Polly Mariner Stone
The Chipstone Foundation
John S. Walton


The sides and top are single boards of mahogany; the top is dovetailed to the sides as is the pine bottom board. The ogee molding at the base of the case is applied to the sides, but at the front is the shaped part of a mahogany board about 2 1/2 inches wide placed flush with the bottom board. The vertical boards that divide the case into three compartments are mahogany and are fitted into grooves in the top and bottom board all the way to the back. In the side compartments the dust boards between the drawers, upon which the drawers run, are made of thin boards of mahogany fitted into grooves cut into the sides and vertical divider boards. the dust boards are about seven inches deep and no not extend to the back. In the central compartment, behind the door, the pigeonhole dividers as well as the horizontal boards extend all the way to the back. The back is made of pine boards set into rabbets cut into the top and sides and is nailed in place. Attached to the bottom board of the case at each corner is a small block of mahogany about two inches square and one-half inch thick. The mahogany feet are doweled through these pieces as well as through the bottom board. Source: Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, American Furniture at Chipstone (Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), 74-77, no. 34.


The shells with fleur-de-lis centers on this document chest are related to those of the chest of drawers RIF664.


"Christie, Manson and Woods, Ltd., advertisement," Antiques 68, no. 4 (October 1955): 385, ill.
"International Saleroom, 1956-1957," Connoisseur Year Book (1957): 110, fig. 15.
Joseph K. Ott, The John Brown House Loan Exhibition of Rhode Island Furniture, exh. cat. (Providence: The Rhode Island Historical Society, 1965), 120–121, 169, no. 75, ill.
Stanley Stone, "Rhode Island Furniture at Chipstone, Part II," Antiques 91, no. 4 (April 1967): 511, ill.
Stanley Stone, "Documented Newport Furniture," Antiques 103, no. 2 (February 1973): 321, fig. 3, 4.
Morrison H. Heckscher, "John Townsend's Block-and-Shell Furniture," Antiques 121, no. 5 (May 1982): 1144, ill.
Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, American Furniture at Chipstone (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), 74–77, no. 34, ill.
Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, "Living with Antiques: Chipstone near Milwaukee," Antiques 133, no. 5 (May 1988): 1151, ill.
Ann Smart Martin, Makers and Users: American Decorative Arts, 1630–1820, from the Chipstone Collection, exh. cat. (Madison, Wis.: Elvehjem Museum of Art, 1999), 63, no. 76, p.16, fig. 21.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005), 106, no. 16, ill.
Christie's New York, New York, Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, and Chinese Export, sale cat. (January 19–20 and 23, 2012), 94–95, lot 113.
Sotheby's, New York, The Exceptional Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Arnold Mahogany High Chest, sale cat. (January 21, 2012), 13, fig. 4.
Erik Gronning and Amy Coes, "The Early Work of John Townsend in the Christopher Townsend Shop Tradition," American Furniture (2013): 35–36, fig. 80–82.
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), 453, 455n11.