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Photo: Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, 1930.2678
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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker, attributed to Benjamin Peabody, 1717–1794


83 39 1/8 20 in. (210.82 99.378 50.8 cm)



Current location

Yale University Art Gallery


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


Mahogany; chestnut (backboards, drawer linings); eastern white pine (top front rail in lower case); white oak (spring lock on upper right drawer in upper case)


There is an illegible inscription, probably original, on the outside of the back of the upper case; it may contain "1778." There are numerous shop marks and numbers in pencil and white chalk. A modern paper label with a red border inscribed with "20" is pasted to the inside of the bottom of the wide drawer in the lower case; the same number is painted in red next to this label.


Henry V. Weil (1864–1943), New York; sold to Francis P. Garvan (1875–1937), New York; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, 1930

Associated names

Henry V. Weil
Francis P. Garvan


The roof of the upper case consists of several thin boards shaped to align with the serpentine backboard and pediment, and nailed with brads to them, to the tops of the single-board case sides, and to transverse battens within the pediment, the ends of which are visible at the top of the pediment back board. The one-piece crown molding (some repairs are evident) is fixed with brads and wood-filled fasteners to the scroll board and case sides. The thickness of the scrollboard is revealed in the bottom of the oculi in the center of the pediment, which also contains an unadorned plinth supporting an urnform finial with acorn-carved top. There are brads in the face of the scrollboard, just below the crown molding, and in the scrollboard plaques at their tapering lower extremities. The pediment is closed; atop the upper case interior is a single board "ceiling" dovetailed to the kerf-marked case sides and nailed with brads, indicating the presence of blocking within the pediment. The upper-case back consists of three boards- the serpentine-top upper board nailed with brads to blocking within the pediment; and two horizontal half-lapped boards below, nailed with brads into rabbets in the case sides, and directly to the single-board case bottom, which is dovetailed to the case sides. The upper back-board is also nailed into a rabbet in the upper-case "ceiling" board. Fixed with brads and wood-filled fasteners to the bottom of the case sides and to the bottom rail is a two-piece base molding. The base molding is also nailed through its underside. It is not rabbeted and it slightly overhangs the case sides. There are nails in the underside of the upper case bottom joining it to the bottom rail above. The bottom of the scrollboard fits into grooves in the case sides, as does the bottom rail. The intervening drawer dividers are half-blind dovetailed to the case sides; the vertical divider between the upper-case small drawers fits into grooves in its neighboring elements. Within the case are strips fixed with rosehead nails which prevent the upper drawers from tipping forward. At the back of the case is a horizontal drawer support set in a groove in the backboard. Half-lapped to it and to the drawer divider in front is a transverse drawer support topped by a drawer guide which aligns with the stile between the small drawers. In line with the drawer dividers below are full-depth supports fixed with rosehead nails to the case sides. Behind the upper case?s bottom rail are three rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The two small upper drawers are fitted with touch latches, each held on by four rosehead nails. These and the longer, kerf-marked drawer fronts below are lipped, thumb-molded and graduated, meeting their slightly shorter, flat-topped drawer sides in dovetail joints, having large, finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The single-board drawer bottoms are full-width, parallel to the fronts, and chamfered at the front, where they fit into a groove, and at the sides, where they are secured by brads nailed through full-depth runners. The drawer bottoms are nailed with brads to the drawer backs. The lower case has no top board. Its two-board, scallop-skirted case sides are half-blind dovetailed to a single-piece, straight-skirted backboard. The lower case front contains a single-board, shell-carved, scalloped skirtboard. The top rail is half-lapped to the facing strips at the flanking stiles. The board behind the top rail is dovetailed to the top of the case sides. There are several now empty nail holes in this area. The drawer divider is set into grooves in the front corner blocking. Into grooves in the divider are set vertical dividers between the small drawers, which are also attached with rosehead nails to the back of the skirtboard. Drawer guides are set into the stiles in front and into grooves in the backboard. Supports for the large upper drawer are set into grooves in the case sides and have drawer guides nailed to their upper surfaces. Supports for the three small drawers are half-lapped to the skirtboard and set into grooves in the backboard. Drawer construction in the lower case is similar to that in the upper case, with the exception of small-drawer bottoms, which are full-width, without runners. The legs are of the "removable" sort, glued into the corners of the case and held in with chamfered vertical glue blocks (some replaced). The front cabriole legs have angular knees and deeply carved ankles and claws grasping elongated ball feet with undercut talons. The rear legs, which project beyond the backboard, have shod pad feet with incised ankles. Examined by P.E. Kane, J.N. Johnson, L.E. Brouwer, E. Litke, T.B. Lloyd; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

See also


Gerald W. R. Ward, American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1988), 270–272, 314–315, no. 142, ill.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 185, fig. 3.103.
Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., The Arts and Crafts of Newport, Rhode Island, 1640–1820 (Newport, R.I.: Preservation Society of Newport County, 1954), 67, 204, 209, no. 41, Supplement 41, ill.
Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., "The Newport Exhibition," Antiques 64, no. 1 (July 1953): 43, fig. 20.
John T. Kirk, American Furniture and the British Tradition to 1830 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982), 135, fig. 352.
John Bivins, The Furniture of Coastal North Carolina: 1700–1820 (Winston-Salem, N.C.: Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, 1988), 192, 194, fig. 5.121.
Edgar G. Miller, American Antique Furniture: A Book for Amateurs, 2 vols. (Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1937), vol. 1, pp. 372–73, no. 656.
John T. Kirk, Early American Furniture: How to Recognize, Evaluate, and Care for the Most Beautiful Pieces: High Style, Country, Primitive and Rustic (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), 108–9, fig. 90.
Robert Bishop, How to Know American Antique Furniture (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), 66, fig. 71.
John T. Kirk, American Furniture: Understanding Styles, Construction, and Quality (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000), 136–137, fig. 163.
Patricia E. Kane, "'An Ingenious Man:' Benjamin Peabody, Newport Cabinetmaker," American Furniture (2021): (forthcoming).