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New Haven Museum and Historical Society, Conn., bequest of Sarah Silliman Pearson, 1992.2; photo by Christopher Gardner
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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker, attributed to Benjamin Peabody, 1717–1794


81 × 38 1/2 × 20 5/16 in. (205.74 × 97.79 × 51.59 cm)


probably 1758

Current location

New Haven Museum and Historical Society


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


Walnut (primary); chestnut (back boards, original drawer supports in upper case, braces under pediment roof, drawer supports for square drawers in lower case, vertical blocks on legs, and all drawer linings); pine (side walls and roof of compartment for central drawer in pediment, top boards on bonnet, glue blocks between upper case front molding and bottom board, and guides for center drawer in lower case)




Possibly “3,” in chalk, on proper left exterior side of proper left lower drawer in bottom case; “3,” in chalk, on interior of skirt behind shell


Mrs. John Noyes, later Mrs. Gold Selleck Silliman, and still later Mrs. John Dickinson (née Mary Fish, 1737–1818), Stonington, and then New Haven, then Fairfield, and later Wallingford, Connecticut; by descent to her son Gold Selleck Silliman, Jr. (1777–1868), Brooklyn, New York; by descent to his granddaughter Mrs. Samuel Carey (née Laura Silliman Taylor, born 1842), New York; by descent to her cousin Marian Cruger Coffin (1876–1957), New Haven, Connecticut; sold to her cousin, Mrs. Winchester Bennett (née Susan Wright, 1876–1965), New Haven, Connecticut; by descent to her daughter Mrs. Norman Holmes Pearson (née Susan Silliman Bennett, 1904–1987), Hamden, Connecticut; bequeathed to New Haven Museum and Historical Society, Connecticut

Associated names

Mary Fish Silliman
Marian Cruger Coffin
Mrs. Winchester Bennett
Mrs. Norman Holmes Pearson
Gold Selleck Silliman, Jr.
Laura Silliman Taylor


The roof of the upper case is comprised of multiple boards nailed to the serpentine-topped scrollboard and backboard with brads. The crown molding at the front and sides is also attached with brads and centers a shaped and molded plinth below an urn-form finial. The board behind is painted black. The upper case contains one deep and two shallow small drawers, above four graduated long drawers, all of them having thumb-molded fronts, lipped at the top and sides only. The scrollboard and drawer dividers below are attached to the case sides with half-blind dovetail joints. The bottom rail of the upper case fits into a groove in the case sides, which are two-board (proper left) and one-board (proper right). The drawer fronts are secured to the flat-topped drawer sides with dovetail joints, having half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The two-board drawer bottoms, parallel to the fronts, are chamfered at the front, where they fit into grooves, and at the sides, where they are secured by applied runners. The upper case drawers have full-depth supports nailed to the case sides with brads. The lower case contains one long over two deep and one shallow small drawers above a scalloped skirt centering a carved shell. The two-board lower case sides have scalloped skirts. The lower case drawers have wide supports which fit into grooves in the flat-skirted backboard and are supported by glue blocks nailed with brads. Drawer supports attached to the case side interiors are supported by horizontal quarter-round glue blocks. The lower case drawer bottoms are nailed up into their drawer backs with brads. There are repairs to the lower outside corners of the deep drawers in the lower case. The front skirt is constructed in an anomalous manner, being a single board extending across the entire lower case. The drawer divider above is similarly full-width. The cabriole legs are of the "detachable" sort, secured to the case corners with (some later) vertical glue blocks. They are square sectioned, with sharp knees, knee brackets nailed with brads, and shod pad feet. Examined by B. W. Colman, January 17, 2008; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Related objects

See also


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), 239n5.
William Lamson Warren, "Isaac Fitch Revisited (as Cabinetmaker)," Connecticut Antiquarian 1 (June 1979): fig. 1A, 1B.
Patricia E. Kane, "'An Ingenious Man:' Benjamin Peabody, Newport Cabinetmaker," American Furniture (2021): (forthcoming).