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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker, possibly by John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809


69 38 1/2 22 1/4 in. (175.26 97.79 56.52 cm)



Current location



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


Mahogany (primary); pine (upper case backboards, drawer dividers, dustboard, top kickbar, drawer guides, drawer sides and backs, some blocks on legs, and drawer supports); yellow poplar or cottonwood (drawer bottoms, lower case backboard, some blocks on legs, and guides for long drawer lower case); chestnut (lower case drawer dividers, blocks behind veneer, some blocks on legs, and a drawer guide)


"M," in script in chalk, on underside of upper case


"A," "B," and "C," in chalk, on exterior backs three small drawer in upper case; "D," "E," and "F," on exterior backs of three long drawers in upper case; "B" and "c," in chalk on proper right exterior corners of small drawers in upper case; illegible chalk on centers of drawer dividers in upper case; "3826 / 100," in black crayon, on back of upper case; "4," "6015," "60 / 20 [underscore] / 120," "31 L (?) 89 (?)," in ink, exterior of small drawer bottom upper case


John S. Walton, New York, 1955; Muriel McCarl (1923–2012) and Foster McCarl, Jr. (1923–2007), Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania; Sotheby's, New York, September 27, 2012, lot 152. Kenneth E. Tuttle Antiques, Pittston, Maine, 2013

Associated names

Muriel McCarl
Foster McCarl, Jr.
John S. Walton, Inc.
Kenneth E. Tuttle Antiques


The single-board top of the upper case is dovetailed to the two-board case sides. The one-piece crown molding is nailed with brads to the case sides. The back of the upper case consists of three horizontal boards half-lapped together and nailed into rabbets in the case sides and top. The single-board upper case bottom is dovetailed to the case sides and bears L-shaped shadows at each corner. Under the case top are three full-depth blocks which prevent the upper drawers from tipping, two nailed to the case sides, and one located at the midpoint of the center small drawer. The backboards and one large drawer bottom exhibit evidence of band sawing. Below the upper row of drawers there is a full depth dustboard to which is nailed, from below, drawer guides aligning with the medial stiles. A thin transverse cleat is nailed at the midpoint of the case to the underside of the dustboard. The long drawers have (replaced) full-depth drawer supports nailed to the case sides. The top and bottom rails of the upper case fit into grooves in the case sides; the drawer dividers meet the case sides in half-blind dovetail joints. The upper case contains three small above three long graduated long drawers with lipped and thumbmolded fronts, secured to their sides with dovetail joints, having finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins over grooves below. The tops of the drawer sides are flat and just shy of their fronts. The drawer bottoms (perpendicular in the small drawers, parallel in the large) fit into grooves in the drawer fronts, and are slightly chamfered at the sides, to which are nailed, with brads, drawer runners. The bottoms are nailed up into the drawer backs with brads. The single-board lower case back has a straight skirt with serpentine ends and joins the two-board case sides with dovetails. Later screws reinforce the connections between the backboard and the rear legs. There are numerous variations in construction between the upper and lower case drawers. The upper rail of the lower case is lapped under the front stile facing. The board behind the rail is joined to the case sides in a single-shouldered joint, reinforced with brads. The lower case front, side, and backboards exhibit several screw pockets, no longer in use. The lower case long drawer has supports set in grooves in the backboard and tenoned into the skirt, and guides (one missing) similarly attached to the skirt. The extant upper drawer guide bears cuts suggesting a former alternate use. The small drawers below, two deep ones flanking a shallow, have supports set in grooves in the backboard and dovetailed into the skirt board. The small-drawer guides are set in grooves in the backboard and tenoned into the backs of the front stiles, which are in turn set into grooves in the drawer divider above and mortise and tenoned (with two pins at each joint) to the skirt board. The front stiles exhibit shadows of vertical glue blocks. The side skirts are scalloped, as is the front skirt, which centers a large carved shell. The cabriole legs are of the "detachable" sort, held into the corners of the lower case with shaped vertical glue blocks. They have angular knees and are square in section, ending in shod pad feet. Examined by P.E. Kane, September 10, 2012; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.


Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 38, fig. 1.21, 1.21a.
"John S. Walton advertisement," Antiques 68, no. 1 (July 1955): 4, ill.
Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana, Including Property from the Collection of Foster and Muriel McCarl, sale cat. (September 27, 2012), lot 152, ill.
Lita Solis-Cohen, "Americana Auction," Maine Antique Digest (December 2012): 5-B.
"Kenneth E. Tuttle Antiques advertisement," Antiques 180, no. 5 (September–October 2013): 2, ill.