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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker, formerly attributed to Christopher Townsend, 1701–1787
Maker Unknown


81 39 1/8 22 in. (205.74 99.378 55.88 cm)



Current location



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


Mahogany (primary); chestnut (backboards upper case, some drawer linings, backing of drawer dividers, backing of top rail lower case, drawer supports, blocks for legs); pine (some drawer linings, top and bottom of upper case, back of lower case)




"A" and "B," in graphite, on interior backs of top drawers in upper case; "C", "D", and "E," in graphite, on interior backs of long drawers in upper case; "Top," inscribed on upper backboard and interior bottom board of upper case; illegible inscriptions on interior backboard of lower case


Charles Woolsey Lyon, Millbrook, New York, 1966. Christie's, New York, September 25, 2008, lot 35

Associated names

Charles Woolsey Lyon


UPPER CASE. The top and bottom boards are dovetailed to the two-piece case sides. The three horizontal backboards are fastened with rose head nails to rabbets in the case sides and the top board and to the back edge of the bottom board. The back edge of the top board is visible from the back and the pediment backboard rests against it. The scroll board is dovetailed to the case sides. Half-blind dovetails fasten the drawer dividers to the case sides and the bottom rail fits in a groove. The drawer supports are fastened to the case sides with rose head nails. The drawer supports for the two narrow drawers at the top butt against a board that spans the back of the case and is tenoned into the side. A medial support for the inner edges of the narrow drawers is tenoned into this board at the back. The muntin between the two narrow drawers is tenoned into the rail above and the drawer divider below. Boards are nailed to the sides of the case above the narrow drawers to keep the drawers from tipping when open. The undersides of the narrow drawers were fitted with spring locks. Half-blind dovetails attach the drawer fronts to the drawer sides with half keys at the top and bottom. The top edges of the drawers are rounded and flush with the drawer fronts; the kerfs marks are long and deep. The drawer bottoms pass under the sides and are nailed with running strips added at the edges. The moldings between the two cases are applied to the base of the upper case; blocks are nailed on the underside along the edges to stabilize the fit of the top to the bottom behind the front rail of the bottom. LOWER CASE. The backboard is dovetailed to the case sides with half keys at the top and bottom and ten full dovetails between them. The interiors of the back and sides are slotted to accept the legs, which are glued in place and reinforced with glue blocks. The joints of the top rail, drawer divider and front skirt are covered with veneer. The backing of the top rail is dovetailed to the case sides. The muntins between the narrow drawers fit in slots in the underside of the drawer divider and are nailed to the sides of the skirt at the drawer opening; a block on the inner faces reinforces the joint. The drawer guides are tenoned into the backs of the muntins and into the case back. Guides for the outer edges of the drawers rest on the tops of the legs or blocks and are glued to the case sides. The medial supports for the narrow drawers are lapped to the skirt at the front and tenoned into the case back. The drawer construction is similar to the upper case. Examined by P.E. Kane and J. S. Gordon, April 2, 2008.


Christie's, New York, Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Maritime Art, and Prints, sale cat. (September 25, 2008), 62–63, lot 35, ill.
"Charles Woolsey Lyon advertisement," Antiques 89, no. 4 (April 1966): 467, ill.