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Photo: Courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, The Helen Bowen Blair Fund, 1989.158
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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker, probably by John Goddard, American, 1723–1785


86 3/8 40 21 1/2 in. (219.393 101.6 54.61 cm)



Current location

Art Institute of Chicago


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


Mahogany (primary); chestnut (drawer linings, blocks for legs, backing for the drawer dividers, medial drawer supports, and wide drawer supports, backboard of lower case, top and bottom of upper case ); white pine (backboard of upper case and bonnet boards)




“A” through “D,” in graphite, on interior backs of drawers of lower case [from top drawer to lower proper-left drawer]; “Inside,” in graphite, on interior back of lower case; “A” through “E,” in graphite, on interior backs of drawers of upper case [from upper proper-right drawer to bottom drawer]; modern black crayon number on various drawers; "TEL. BUTTERFIELD 8-9415/F. K. MIKUS & CO./CABINET MAKER AND/UPHOLSTERER/SPECIALIST IN/ANTIQUE REPAIRING/177 EAST 75th STREET/NEW YORK," printed, on paper label with red border glued to proper left side interior


Donald R. Sack, Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania, 1989; sold to The Art Institiute of Chicago, 1989

Associated names

Donald R. Sack American Antiques


UPPER CASE: The three horizontal backboards of the upper case are half-lapped together and are fastened with t-head nails to rabbets in the one-piece case sides and top and to the back edge of the bottom board. The top board is visible from the back of the case; the backboard for the scrolled pediment is above it. The front cornice moldings are secured with nails driven in countersunk holes on the top surface and with brads from the front along the round part of the molding; the side cornice moldings are nailed from the exterior with wooden plugs covering the nails. Half-blind dovetails fasten the bottom of the front scroll board to the case sides as do the drawer dividers and bottom rail. Dovetails fasten the bottom board to the case sides with half keys at the front and back and seven full dovetails between them. An ogee and half-round molding is attached to the sides and front of the upper case. The two small drawers at the top of the upper case are supported on a frame that spans the back of the case; the medial support for the drawers is tenoned into it. Two vertical braces support the frame and pierce the bottom board of the upper case. The muntin between the small drawers is dovetailed to the top rail above and tenoned to the drawer divider below. The drawer supports are fastened to the case sides with rose head nails. On the deepest of the long drawers half-blind dovetails fasten the drawer front to the drawer sides with half keys at the top and bottom and six full dovetails between them; the pins are narrow and the kerf marks are average to long. The top edges of the drawer sides are rounded and the top edges of the drawer backs are flat. The grain of the one-piece bottom board fits into a groove in the drawer front and is nailed with brads flush with the other three sides; running strips are added to the edges. The small drawers are similar, but the bottoms are nailed to rabbets in the drawer fronts and flush with the other three sides. The base molding on the upper case is glued at the front and nailed at the sides. LOWER CASE. Half-blind dovetails attach the one-piece backboard to the one-piece case sides with half keys top and bottom and twelve full dovetails between them. The joint of the top rail, drawer divider and skirt to the sides is covered with veneer. The legs are secured to the case sides with vertical blocks. A medial batten is lapped to the top rail and tenoned into the case back. A medial support for the long drawer is lapped to the drawer divider and tenoned into the backboard. The outer supports for the long drawer are lapped to the drawer divider at the front and tenoned into the backboard; drawer guides are glued to them. For the small drawers, the outer drawer supports are nailed to the vertical blocks for the legs and at the rear they are rabbeted to conform to the block. The medial braces are dovetailed to the skirt and tenoned into the backboard. The muntins slide in dovetail keyways in the drawer divider and are glued to the skirt; the guides for the inner sides of the drawers are tenoned into the muntins and to the backboard. The brasses are replaced. Examined by P. E. Kane and W. S. Braznell, June 28, 2005


The construction of this highchest is unusual in having a pair of vertical braces in the back of the upper case and a medial brace at the top of the lower case.


Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), 78–80, no. 22, ill.
"Donald R. Sack American Antiques advertisement," Antiques 137, no. 1 (January 1990): 24, ill.
"Donald R. Sack American Antiques advertisement," Antiques 135, no. 5 (May 1989): 1017, ill.
Marvin D. Schwartz, "It's Growing: Chicago's American Wing," Antiques and the Arts Weekly (June 29, 1990): 1, ill.
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), 373n1, 449.