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Photo: Courtesy the Rhode Island Historical Society, 1990.36.1
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Roundabout chair

Object number



Maker John Goddard, American, 1723–1785


Height: 30 1/2 in. (77.47 cm) Width: 30 in. (76.2 cm) Height to seat rail: 16 1/2 in. (41.91 cm)



Current location

The Rhode Island Historical Society


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


Mahogany (primary); maple (slip seat frame); pine (glue blocks)




“Brown / X,” in ink, on proper-right rear rails of slip seat frame; “II,” incised on proper-right front rail of slip seat frame; “I,” incised of rabbet of proper-left front seat rail


John Brown (1736–1803), Providence, Rhode Island; by inheritance to his daughter Sarah "Sally" Brown Herreshoff (1773–1846), Providence; by inheritance to Nathanael Greene Herreshoff III (1884–1965), Bristol, Rhode Island; by inheritance to Norman Herreshoff (1903–1990), Providence; given to Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, 1990

Associated names

Norman Herreshoff
Israel Sack, Inc.
Nathanael Greene Herreshoff III
John Brown
Sarah "Sally" Brown Herreshoff


The arms consist of three half-lapped segmental pieces, supported by serpentine stile/ cabriole legs. The rear stile/leg is tenoned and wood pinned to the smallest, central portion of the arms. The proper left single-piece, open work, interlacing splat is tenoned into the proper left portion of the arms, which has a carved-out elbow rest and a scrolling terminus. The proper right splat is tenoned into its similarly worked portion. The proper right portion also contains, on its front face, two wood pins, indicating an old repair. Attached with wood-filled fasteners to the top of the three-part rail is a single- piece segmental crest. The splats are tenoned into molded, single-piece shoes (which slightly overhang the seat frame), themselves fixed to the straight rear seat rails with wood-filled fasteners. The rear edge of the top of each shoe is slightly chamfered. The flat-arch skirted rear rails, whose undersides have prominent rasp marks, are tenoned and double-wood-pinned to the rear and flanking stile/legs. The three rear legs have angular knees. The front seat rails are tenoned and double-wood-pinned to the flanking stile/legs, and tenoned and single-wood-pinned to the front leg, which has a rounded knee. The front rails are rabbeted to receive the seat frame. There are triangular blocks at the front and rear corners of the seat frame; the front block is fixed with brads, the rear block with rosehead nails. The front block is carved out at the base of its triangle, and the neighboring portions of the front seat rails are similarly carved, but to a lesser extent. Triangular blocks in the flanking corners are replacements, as are several of the knee brackets. The legs have prominent tendons and deeply carved talons and claws grasping elongated ball feet. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, June 23, 2014; Notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

Related objects


Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 63, fig. 1.55.
Joseph K. Ott, The John Brown House Loan Exhibition of Rhode Island Furniture, exh. cat. (Providence: The Rhode Island Historical Society, 1965), 22–23, no. 20, ill.
Wendy A. Cooper, "The Purchase of Furniture and Furnishings by John Brown, Providence Merchant, Part 1: 1760–1788," Antiques 103, no. 2 (February 1973): 338, pl. 1.
Sotheby's, New York, Property of the Goddard Family, sale cat. (January 22, 2005), 70–72, fig. 4.
Amy Coes, "A Bill of Sale from John Goddard to John Brown and the Furniture It Documents," Antiques 169, no. 5 (May 2006): 131-2, fig. 5.
Jonathan Prown, "John Singleton Copley's Furniture and the Art of Invention," American Furniture (2004): 153–154, fig. 3.
John T. Kirk, American Furniture: Understanding Styles, Construction, and Quality (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000), 135–136, fig. 162.
Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury (New York: MacMillan Company, 1963), no. 2074, 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), 133n7, 337n2.