image of object
From: Joseph K. Ott, "Some Rhode Island Furniture," Antiques 107 (May 1975): 951, fig. 16
Click the image to enlarge

Commode chair

Object number



Maker Unknown


41 3/4 23 1/4 in. (106.045 59.055 cm) Height, seat rail: 15 1/2 in. (39.37 cm)



Current location

The Rhode Island Historical Society


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


Birch (colored to resemble mahogany); chestnut (pan frame, secondary); pewter (commode)






John Brown (1736–1803), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to Westcote Herreshoff Chesebrough (1908–1979), Providence, Rhode Island; consigned to Gustave, J. S. White, Inc., Newport, Rhode Island, July 15, 1974; sold to Joseph K. Ott (1929–1994), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his wife Anne Northrup Ott (1929–2015), Providence, Rhode Island; gift to the Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, 2011

Associated names

Joseph K. Ott
John Brown
Gustave J. S. White, Inc.
Westcote Herreshoff Chesebrough
Anne Northrop Ott


The serpentine crest rail is flat in front, in back its edges are chamfered. Tenoned into its underside is an openwork single-board splat, with serpentine uprights surrounding an uncarved urn. The splat is also tenoned into the top of a molded shoe/rear-seat-rail which is tenoned and single-wood-pinned to the leg/stiles. These are flat in front with chamfered edges in back down to the seat frame, then square and raking rearward, with inside tapering chamfered front corners and outside slightly chamfered rear corners. The leg/stiles are tenoned to the crest rail without wood pins. The side seat rails are tenoned and double-wood-pinned to the leg/stiles and tenoned and single-wood-pinned to the front legs, to which the front seat rail is tenoned and single-wood-pinned. The arms are in two parts ? the armrests are tenoned and wood-pinned to the leg/stiles, and the serpentine supports are tenoned and wood-pinned to the armrests and to the side seat rails. The front face of the arms is molded, the outside edges beaded. Inside the seat frame are ledgers nailed to the front and side rails with brads. They support a board with a central circular hole fitted with a pewter chamber pot. The front and side rails are also rabbeted to support a rush-covered slip seat, the exposed corners of which are chamfered on top and rabbeted on the bottom. The rear stretcher, beaded on its upper outside corner and slightly shy of the rear leg/stiles, is tenoned to them without wood pins. The side stretchers are similarly beaded and flush with the outside faces of the front and rear legs, to which they are tenoned and wood-pinned. The half-dovetail joint between the side and medial stretchers is visible on their underside. The slightly tapering front legs have beaded outside front corners and chamfered inside rear corners. None of the wood pins are visible on both sides of the mortise and tenon joints. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, August 18, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.


Joseph K. Ott, "Some Rhode Island Furniture," Antiques 107, no. 5 (May 1975): 951, fig. 16.
Gustave J. S. White, Inc., Newport, R.I., Property of Westcote Herreshoff Chesebrough at "Wakehurst," Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, sale cat. (July 15, 1974), ill.
"Gustave J. S. White, Inc., advertisement," Antiques 105, no. 6 (June 1974): 1265, ill.