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Chest of drawers

Object number



Maker, attributed to Daniel Spencer, 1741–1796


32 1/2 36 1/8 20 in. (82.55 91.758 50.8 cm)



Current location

Private Collection


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


Mahogany (primary); pine [possibly yellow pine] (bottom board, backing for drawer dividers, battens under top, blocks under top, blocks on feet, and rear feet brackets); chestnut (backing behind drawer locks, case back, and drawer linings)




“1” or “I,” in graphite, on interior drawer sides [at front]; “1,” in graphite, on interior back of upper drawer; “A” through “D,” in graphite, on interior drawer sides and backs [from top to bottom]; vertical lines, in graphite, on interior drawer sides and backs [sometimes adjacent to or overlapping letters]; Roman numerals, "II" to" VIII," incised, on side cockbead moldings


Sotheby's, New York, January 30–31, February 1, 1986, lot 665

Associated names



The two-board top is molded at the front and sides and secured to the case below by screws through two longitudinal braces on its underside, one brace in front and one in back, and by six rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The braces under the top are presumably secured to the two-board case sides with concealed dovetail joints. The top overhangs slightly at the back. Beneath its front and sides is a one-piece beaded cove molding attached to the case with brads. The case back consists of two horizontal boards half-lapped together and nailed into rabbets in the case sides and directly to the rear brace under the top and to the case bottom with rosehead and other nails. The case bottom consists of three boards fitted together and joined to the case sides with dovetail joints, having pins of varying configurations. Within the case are full-depth transverse cleats, under the longitudinal braces, which keep the top drawer from tipping and are nailed into the case sides with brads. The top rail is joined to the case sides with half-blind dovetail joints and is reinforced behind by four rectangular horizontal glue blocks. At the back of the case are drawer stops for the upper drawer, nailed with brads into the case sides. The drawers have supports, some original, secured to the case sides with rosehead nails, some replaced, secured with screws. The drawer dividers and bottom rail are also joined to the case with half-blind dovetails. The drawer openings are framed by heavy cockbeading, nailed with brads into the dividers, rails and case sides. There are four drawers, the deep, upper one being blocked and shell-carved, the lower three, slightly graduated in height, blocked. Each drawer front has, behind its central, concave portion, a chamfered reinforcing block held on with nails. The flanking, convex portions of each drawer front are applied. The drawer fronts meet their side in dovetail joints, having finely cut pins of varying configurations, with half-pins above and below. The tops of the drawer sides are sometimes chamfered, sometimes not. Some drawer side tops are flush with their drawer fronts, some are shy thereof. The drawer fronts have prominent kerf marks. The single-board bottoms are parallel to their drawer fronts and chamfered at the fronts and sides, where they are secured by applied runners. The drawer bottoms are nailed with brads to the bottoms of the drawer backs. The bottom of the base molding is flush with the multi-board case bottom, in the front board of which are three evenly spaced rosehead nails. The front faces of the front feet are blocked and volute-carved. Behind each foot are rounded, carved and mitered blocks glued (and sometimes screwed) to the case bottom. Glued to the underside of these blocks are vertical blocks. To the resulting assemblies are attached mitered mahogany faces at the front feet, and at the rear feet, mahogany faces with grooves, into which fit the simple incurvate brackets of the backs of the rear feet. Examined by P. E. Kane and W. S. Braznell, August 22, 2012; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

See also


Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana, sale cat. (January 30–Februrary 1, 1986), lot 665, ill.
Albert Sack, The New Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1993), 111, 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), 313n6.