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Photo: Courtesy Newport Restoration Foundation, R.I., 2001.401
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Chest of drawers

Object number



Maker Joiner D, active 1720–60


37 1/4 × 36 3/4 × 20 in. (94.615 × 93.345 × 50.8 cm)



Current location

Newport Restoration Foundation, Rhode Island


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


Maple (primary); maple (feet); yellow poplar (drawer linings, backboards of case, central support for upper drawers, horizontal board at back of case, and blocks above feet); pine (drawer divider backings, molding backings, and drawer stops)




“D,” in chalk, on exterior drawer backs; “1,” in graphite, exterior back of proper-right upper drawer; “2,” in graphite, exterior back of proper-left upper drawer; staggered sets of vertical lines within boxes, in chalk, on exterior back of upper drawer with graphite “1;” mathematical figures, in chalk, on exterior bottom of lower drawer; lumber marks, incised on exterior bottom of upper long drawer; “D,” impressed into case backboards


Possibly owned by Edmund Sheffield (1694–1764), Kingstown, Rhode Island. Eliza Paine Sheffield (1799–1876), Kingstown, Rhode Island; by descent to her son, William P. Sheffield (1819–1907), 1879; by descent to his son, William P. Sheffield (1857–1919), 1907; by descent to his son, Samuel Sanford Sheffield, Cincinnati; by descent to his sister, Mrs. Roswell Josephs (née Frances Sheffield). Sold to Doris Duke (1912–1993) for Newport Restoration Foundation, Rhode Island, 1972; Whitehorne House Museum, Newport Restoration Foundation, Rhode Island, from 1974

Associated names

Sarah Gardiner
Edmund Sheffield
William P. Sheffield
William P. Sheffield
Eliza Paine Sheffield
S. S. Sheffield
Frances Sheffield Josephs


The rectangular top has a molded edge nailed to it with brads at the front and sides. The two-board sides are dovetailed to the two-board case bottom. The two-board back is nailed into rabbets in the case sides. Within the case are two small and three long drawers, whose fronts bear prominent marks of alternate hardware. Each drawer has full depth supports, attached to the case sides with rosehead nails. The drawer fronts have dovetail joints with large thick-necked pins, half-keys above and half-keys with rabbets below, into which fit the drawer bottoms, with applied runners below. The flat-topped drawer sides and backs are flush with the tops of the drawer fronts. Within the case across the back at the top is a transverse cleat which supports the upper drawers. Into a groove in this cleat is set a medial drawer support aligned with the half-round vertical divider between the upper drawers, a half-round fronted member set in V-shaped grooves in the drawer divider below and the edge molding at the top above. The horizontal drawer dividers are also half-round in profile, set in V-shaped grooves in a half-round molding in the front of the case sides. Glued to the top of the case bottom are two full-depth transverse cleats through which the tops of the bun feet are visible. The case has a molded base applied with brads and is raised on large bun feet. Examined by D.A. Carr; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.


Joiner D used a schematic "D" or hemisphere in chalk on the exterior of his drawer backs sometimes with a horizontal line in chalk across exterior backs of drawers. A number of case pieces have been found with this marking system. This chest of drawers is closely related to RIF2079. Both have ball feet with high narrow necks and small sloped pads.

See also


"Collector's Notes," Antiques 84, no. 4 (October 1963): 454, ill.
Christie's New York, New York, Important American Furniture, Outsider, and Folk Art, sale cat. (September 22, 2014), 14, fig. 2.
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), 448, 455n7, fig. 8.