image of object
Photo: Courtesy Historic Deerfield Inc., Deerfield, Mass., HD 0303; photo by Amanda Merullo
Click the image to enlarge

High chest of drawers


Object number

RIF1327

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

88 39 1/4 21 1/2 in. (223.52 99.695 54.61 cm)

Date

1755–75

Current location

Historic Deerfield, Inc.

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); pine (drawer linings, back of lower case, backings of drawer dividers, most drawer guides and supports of lower case, and all secondary wood of upper case except spring locks and pediment roof); chestnut (outer supports for outside bottom drawers of lower case, interior guides for small drawers of lower case, and backings of vertical dividers of lower case); yellow poplar (roof of pediment); maple (spring locks of upper drawers of upper case)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“A” through “D,” in graphite, on interior back of drawers of lower case [from upper drawer to proper-left lower drawer]; “Back,” in graphite, on interior backboard of lower case; “A,” in graphite, on upper surface of front rail of lower case; “B,” on top surface of divider under upper drawer of lower case; “A” through “E,” in graphite, on interior backs of drawers of upper case [from proper-right upper drawer to lower drawer]; “A,” in graphite, on top surface of divider under upper drawers of upper case; “B” through “C,” in graphite, on top surfaces of dividers under upper two long drawers of upper case; “Bottom,” in graphite, on interior bottom of upper case

Style

Queen Anne

Provenance

The Silvermine Tavern, Norwalk, Connecticut; sold to Henry N. Flynt (1893–1970), Deerfield, Massachusetts, 1947; given to Historic Deerfield, Inc., Massachusetts, 1955

Associated names

The Silvermine Tavern
Henry N. Flynt

Construction

The upper-case roof consists of multiple thin boards shaped to align with the serpentine pediment and nailed with brads to the tops of the upper-case ceiling, the pediment scrollboard and backboard, the blocking behind the crown molding?s upper transverse returns, and to transverse blocking whose back ends are revealed through the pediment backboard. The single-piece pediment backboard was formerly nailed to the backs of the crown molding?s transverse blocking; the upper portion of backboard is now missing. It is also fixed with a variety of nails, some obscured by strips of paper, to the back edge of the upper-case top. The three rectangular horizontal, half-lapped upper-case backboards below are fixed with rosehead nails into rabbets in the single-board case sides and directly to the back edge of the case bottom. The single-piece crown molding is fixed from within the open pediment to the scrollboard and case sides, and face-nailed to the blocking behind its upper transverse returns; it stops just shy of the ends of this blocking. The scrollboard is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides; its thumb-molded plaques are fixed to it by invisible means. The scrollboard?s segmental cutouts center a rectangular plinth with a fluted front face and a three-sided base molding held into grooves with face-nailed sprigs. The plinth?s cap is missing. An urn-form finial with corkscrew flame is doweled into the plinth; there are two flanking similar plinths and finials, which sit in rectangular recesses. The plinth is supported from behind by a vertical block once fixed with nails, and now glued to the inside face of the scrollboard. The single-board upper-case top meets the case sides in half-blind dovetail joints having thick-necked pins with half-pins and rabbets in back. The two-board upper-case bottom is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides as well, with thick-necked pins largely obscured by lateral transverse blocks, fixed with rosehead nails, which lock the upper into the lower case. Brads in the front of the bottom?s underside join it to the bottom rail above. A rabbeted waist molding is fixed with wood-filled fasteners. A vertical divider between the upper small drawers is half-lapped to the scrollboard and set into a groove in the ceiling above and half-lapped to the drawer divider above. A medial transverse support for the small drawers is half-lapped to the upper drawer divider and joined to a longitudinal support at the back of the case, which is set into grooves in the case sides. The joint between lateral and longitudinal supports is reinforced by two nails in the batten?s underside. Set into the bottom of the longitudinal support is the top of a medial vertical batten, nailed from within to the backboard; its bottom is visible at the back of the upper-case bottom?s underside. Tip bars for the upper drawers are fixed with brads nailed to the case sides. The drawer dividers below meet the sides in half-blind dovetail joints; drawer supports which have chamfered ends and are fixed with rosehead nails align with them. The two small and three long lipped, thumb-molded, kerf-marked and graduated drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, slightly arch-topped sides in dovetail joints having finely cut pins of slightly varying configuration, with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The full-width drawer bottoms are parallel to the front and slightly chamfered there (where they fit in grooves) and at the sides, where runners are nailed to them with brads. They are fixed with rosehead nails to the bottoms of their drawer backs, whose tops are chamfered at their ends and at their back edges. Some of the upper-case drawer fronts are chamfered at the top of their inside faces. Touch latches are fixed to the underside of the small-drawer bottoms with rosehead nails. The single-board lower-case backboard has a skirt which is straight in the middle and serpentine at the ends, and meets the single-board case sides in half-blind dovetail joints having pins of widely varying configuration. A rabbeted transverse rail is lap-jointed to the top of each case side in front; these joints are reinforced with nails in the top of the rail. A mahogany strip is attached to the front of this rail. At each lateral extremity of the lower-case front a vertical veneer strip conceals the joints between the case sides and its various horiztonal elements. Lateral transverse supports for the upper drawer are half-lapped to the drawer divider in front and set into grooves in the backboard. Drawer guides are fastened to the tops of these supports. Supports for the three lower small drawers are half-lapped to the bottoms of the openings in the scalloped shell-carved skirt board. They are supported by horizontal blocks glued to the skirtboard. Under the middle support is a block shaped to align with the shape of the skirt on either side of its turned pendant. The transverse supports are set into grooves in the backboard; the proper right one is reinforced by a nail in the backboard?s bottom edge. Vertical small-drawer guides are set into grooves in the bottom of the drawer divider above and held in place below by vertical rectangular glue blocks with rounded, shaped bottoms aligning with the skirtboard. Those at the proper left are missing. Tenoned into the backs of these vertical guides are transverse guides which are set into grooves in the backboard. Lateral transverse drawer guides are cut out to fit around the glue blocks which secure the ?detachable? legs into the corners. The lower-case small drawers differ from those above in their bottoms, which are flat, full-width, without runners, and nailed to the fronts in rabbets. The legs are square at the knee, and have angular slipper feet with rounded ankles. The rear legs project beyond the plane of the backboard. The knee brackets are held on with glue. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnsons, October 29, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Albert Sack, Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1950), 182, ill.
Dean A. Fales, Jr., The Furniture of Historic Deerfield (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1976), 212, fig. 436.
Albert Sack, The New Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1993), 193, ill.
Jeffrey P. Greene, American Furniture of the 18th Century: History, Technique, Structure (Newtown, Conn: The Taunton Press, 1996), 235–237, ill.