image of object
Photo: Courtesy Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Del., 1955.0036
Click the image to enlarge

Dressing table

Object number



Maker Unknown


Height: 31 7/8 in. (80.963 cm) Width, top: 34 7/8 in. (88.583 cm) Width, case: 32 7/8 in. (83.503 cm) Width, feet: 34 7/8 in. (88.583 cm) Depth, top: 20 1/8 in. (51.118 cm) Depth, case: 18 7/8 in. (47.943 cm) Depth, feet: 20 1/8 in. (51.118 cm)



Current location

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library


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


Mahogany (primary); chestnut (drawer sides and back, drawer divider backings, and drawer supports); pine (drawer bottoms)




“X,” in chalk, on exterior drawer bottoms; “1,” in graphite, on interior back and interior proper-left side [front corner] of upper drawer; illegible graphite, on interior bottom of upper drawer; “2,” in graphite, on interior back and interior sides [at front corners] of proper-right lower drawer; “3,” in graphite, on interior drawer back and interior sides [at front corners] of proper-left lower drawer; “1,” in chalk, on interior of case back and interior proper-left case side [near juncture]; “2,” in chalk, on interior proper-left case side [at case front]; “4,” in graphite, in chalk, on interior of case back and interior proper-right case side [near juncture]; a three-column sum in pounds, shillings, and pence [the total being £4.19.0], in chalk, on underside of top


Hunter and Birckhead families, Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to Mrs. Philip G. Birckhead (née Elizabeth D.), New York; sold to Winterthur Museum, Delaware, 1955

Associated names

Hunter family
Birckhead family
Elizabeth D. Birckhead


The one-piece top with ogee-molded front and side edges overhangs the case slightly at the back. The case interior is lined with glue blocks at the top of all four sides, the largest also secured with sprigs. Rosehead nails through the long side blocks secure the top to the case. The rear blocks are secured with rosehead nails from the outside of the backboard. A covered cornice molding with mitered corners is nailed to the case top. The one-piece backboard is dovetailed to the sides. The top rail, drawer blade, and skirt of the case front are dovetailed to the case sides. Two shallow blocks of secondary wood are set between these elements at the front corners, and the corners are covered with facing strips of vertically grained wood to conceal the construction. The drawer blade is faced with secondary wood on the back and through the center passes behind the skirt above the shell, forming a rabbet. The broad runners for the upper drawer abut the case sides and are tenoned into the backboard and rabbeted into the front blade. The centered runners for the small drawers are tenoned to the backboard and dovetailed to the front skirt at the inside faces of the drawer openings. The shell in the skirt is carved from solid wood. The legs, once removable, continue halfway up the case as interior stiles and are secured with glue blocks. All four talons of the front feet are undercut. The sides of the dovetailed drawers are rounded on the top; the backs are flat. The bottom board on the long drawer, the grain running from side to side, is chamfered on the front edge and set in a groove; it is mounted flush along the sides, which are secured by applied battens, and nailed flush along the back. The bottoms of the small drawers, the grain running from front to back, are lapped at the front and nailed flush at the sides and back. A narrow thumbmolding finishes the front edges of the drawers; the side and top lips butt against the case. Source: Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur, (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 344.


Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 343–344, no. 173, ill.
Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., "The Newport Exhibition," Antiques 64, no. 1 (July 1953): 43, fig. 19.
Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., The Arts and Crafts of Newport, Rhode Island, 1640–1820 (Newport, R.I.: Preservation Society of Newport County, 1954), 88, no. 60, ill.
Christie's, New York, Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Silver, sale cat. (January 19, 2018), 80, fig. 6.