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Photo: Courtsey Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, Mass., Bequest of George Harris, Jr., Class of 1906, AC 1955.296
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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker Unknown


66 38 22 1/2 in. (167.64 96.52 57.15 cm)



Current location

Mead Art Museum, Amherst College


Probably made in Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)


Black walnut (case sides in the upper case, outer moldings, facing on drawers dividers, facing on top shallow drawer, veneer facing on other drawers, leg posts, and front boards of base); soft maple (turned legs and feet); chestnut (drawer runners and bottoms of all drawers except center small drawer in upper case and the center drawer in the lower case); sugar maple (side drawer runners, side boards in the lower case, and front and side patterned stretchers); yellow poplar (back of lower central drawer, upper middle right drawer runner in the upper case, and the backboard of the middle drawer in the lower case); sassafras (small blocks behind the corner face molding of the top shallow drawer and the inner frame blocks above each leg); eastern white pine (on the upper case: case top and back, backing strip under the top molding, drawer dividers upper middle left drawer runner, drawer fronts, sides and backs, bottom of center small drawer, and glue blocks; on lower case: backboard, front frame and facing boards, drawer fronts and sides, backs of left and right drawers, bottom of middle drawer, and rear stretcher)




Illegible chalk, on exterior back of proper-right upper drawer; illegible inscription, in graphite, on proper-right exterior side of proper-right upper drawer; “102 N Plum,” in chalk, on interior bottoms of first two long drawers beneath row of smaller drawers and center drawer of lower case; illegible inscription, in chalk, on proper-left exterior side of lower drawer; doodle, in graphite, on proper-right side of proper-right lower drawer; “22 864 / Mr. Geo Harris / 102 N Plum,” in chalk, on exterior back of upper case; “102 N Plum,” in chalk, on exterior back of lower case


George E. Harris (died 1955), Richmond, Virginia; bequeathed to Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1955

Associated names

George E. Harris


The two-board upper-case top is half-blind dovetailed to the two-board case sides, with half-pins in front, and half-pins with rabbets in back. Nailed with brads to the case sides and front is a five-part entablature, consisting of a crown molding with partially veneered backer board above a ogee fillet, a pulvinated frieze molding and a quarter round fillet. In the front of the case the pulvinated frieze is the face of a horizontal ?document drawer?. Its segmental convex front is mitered at the corners and fixed to rectangular blocking at both ends and to the vertical drawer front behind with wood-filled fasteners. The rectangular blocking fits into conformingly shaped notches in the case sides. The upper case-back consists of three vertical, half-lapped boards fixed with rosehead nails into rabbets in the case top and sides and with brads to the single-board case bottom, which they overhang slightly. Nailed with brads to the perimeter of the case bottom are three long blocks ? two transverse and one horizontal. To this blocking is nailed with brads a one-piece base molding. Within the upper case are drawer dividers with half-round fronts which fit into V-shaped grooves in the case sides. On the front faces of the case sides are half-round moldings, nailed with brads. Aligning with the drawer dividers are full-depth drawer supports, fixed to the case sides with rosehead nails, and interspersed with vertical drawer stops glued into the inside corners. The three small drawers below the frieze drawer are separated by vertical uprights tenoned through the dividers above and below. In line with these uprights are horizontally arranged medial transverse drawer supports half-lapped to the drawer divider in front and to a longitudinal drawer support set into grooves in the case back and sides. The frieze-drawer front is dovetailed to its flush, flat-topped drawer sides; its drawer bottom is perpendicular to the front. The elaborately crossbanded and veneered drawer fronts below ? three small above three graduated long drawers ? meet their flush, flat-topped sides in dovetail joints having large, finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The small-drawer joints have larger, more acutely angled pins. The drawer bottoms are perpendicular to the fronts, the small-drawer to the bottom are single-board, the larger ones three. They are nailed with brads into rabbets in the bottom of the drawer fronts, attached to the drawer sides underneath applied runners, and nailed with brads directly to the flat-topped drawer backs. The rear corners are chamfered vertically. The three small drawers of the lower case are constructed similarly. The lower-case backboard is a single, flat-skirted piece, half-blind dovetailed to the single-board case sides, the scalloped skirts of which are edged with thin strips of wood applied with rosehead nails. The deeply scalloped front skirt is similarly edged. There is a rabbeted longitudinal rail at the front of the lower case, set into grooves in the front of the case sides, which together form a platform upon which the upper case rests, within a molding fixed with brads. Inside the lower case are two deep vertical transverse drawer guides, which meet the backboard in half-dovetail joints and are set into blocks behind the skirt, into which the medial front legs are doweled. Nailed to these drawer guides with brads are supports for the small drawers. Drawer stops are glued to the inside of the case back. The front corners of the lower case consist of vertical blocks, veneered at the front, into which the turned legs are doweled. The joints between the multi-board skirt and the corner posts are concealed by veneer. Set into these front corner posts are rabbeted supports for the flanking small drawers. These supports are also set into the backboard and sit upon corner blocks, into which the rear legs are doweled. The deeply turned legs are joined by flat stretchers mimicking the outline of the skirts above and half-lapped at each leg just above the foot. On the stretchers? underside are multiple chamfered blocks, reinforcing old repairs. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, May 2, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.


Lewis A. Shepard, American Art at Amherst, exh. cat. (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1978), 237, ill.
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), 18–19, 21, 152, fig. 8.