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Photo: Courtesy Newport Historical Society, R.I., inv. no. 1884.3.3
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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker Unknown
Maker, possibly by Handley Chipman, 1717–1799
Maker, formerly attributed to Job Townsend, Sr., 1699–1765


80 38 3/4 20 in. (203.2 98.43 50.8 cm)



Current location

Newport Historical Society


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


Mahogany (primary); white pine (secondary)


"HC," conjoined, in chalk, at center of interiors of drawer backs on all long drawers and center drawer above the shell


"A" and "B," in chalk, on interiors of drawer backs of deep drawers in lower case; "L" and "R," in graphite, on underside of small drawers in upper case (later); a slash, in chalk, on interior front corners of drawer sides; "front," in chalk, on the interior of backboard of lower case near top edge; incised laying out marks for shell on underside of upper most long drawer; "Made by Job Townsend" engraved on brass plaque that was attached to front of lower drawer in upper case, now removed; "Oct 21 1884," in graphite, on outside of one drawer side


Ellen F. Townsend (1809–1887), Newport, Rhode Island; given to Newport Historical Society, Rhode Island, 1884

Associated names

Ellen F. Townsend


The upper-case sides each consist of two boards. The drawer dividers are solid and join the case sides in half-blind half dovetails. There are full-depth drawer supports attached to the case sides with brads. The upper-case has two small and three long thumb-molded drawers, the small ones bearing shadows of touch latches. The drawer sides are heavy and square-topped, quite a bit shy of the drawer-front tops. The drawer backs have slightly chamfered tops. The dovetails are rather crude, as well as randomly sized and shaped. The drawer bottoms are chamfered at front and sides, set into grooves in the drawer front and drawer sides, and nailed to the drawer backs. There are no kerf marks. The bottom of the upper case sits on the lower by means of ledges at front and back. The bottom of the upper case is joined to the upper-case sides with nine half-blind dovetails, with half-pins at front and back. The lower caseback is attached to the case sides with eight half-blind dovetails, with half-pins at the bottom. The lower-case back is shaped on its lower edge. Lower-case drawer supports are let into the front skirt and backboard. The lower-case-sides are fastened to the front skirt and the joints are concealed with strips of veneer. The legs are fastened to the lower case with vertical glue blocks, two in each corner. Examined by P.E. Kane, September 29, 2011; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.


The conjoined chalk letters "HC" on the backs of the long drawers and the drawer above the shell may identify this high chest of drawers as the work of the Newport joiner Handley Chipman.


Mabel M. Swan, "The Goddard and Townsend Joiners, Part I," Antiques 49, no. 4 (April 1946): 229, fig. 3.
Jeffrey P. Greene, American Furniture of the 18th Century: History, Technique, Structure (Newtown, Conn: The Taunton Press, 1996), 68, ill.