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Photo: Courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts, 65.348
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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker Unknown


68 1/4 39 21 in. (173.36 99.06 53.34 cm)



Current location

Detroit Institute of Arts


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


Maple burl veneer (drawer fronts); cherry (stretchers, case sides, molding, and top and side rails of lower case); walnut (vertical strips of veneer on upper and bottom cases); maple(?) (legs); pine (secondary)




“V [pointing up],” in chalk, on exterior backs of drawers of upper case; “IIII,” incised on bottom of top drawer of upper case; “2,” in chalk, on exterior back of proper-right small drawer of upper case; “2,” in chalk, on exterior bottom of proper-right small drawer of upper case; “1”, in chalk, on exterior back of proper-left upper drawer of upper case; “III” and “II,” incised on exterior bottoms of bottom two long drawers of upper case [from top to bottom]; “V,” in chalk, on tops of dividers under long drawers of upper case; “RAY” and “Dave” [later], incised on exterior backboards of upper case; “1,” in chalk, on exterior bottom of proper-right drawer of lower case; “V [pointing up]” and “X,” in chalk, on exterior back of middle drawer of lower case; “X,” incised on exterior bottom of middle drawer of lower case; “2,” in chalk, on exterior back of proper-left lower drawer of lower case; history of high chest, written on index cards affixed to proper-left interior side of proper-left drawer of lower case


Descended in the Grout family, Charleston, Vermont; sold to Dr. Samuel C. G. Watkins (1853–1942), Montclair, New Jersey, about 1900. Ginsburg and Levy, Inc., New York, 1965; sold to Detroit Institute of Arts, 1965

Associated names

Grout family of Charleston, Vermont
Ginsburg and Levy, Inc.
Dr. Samuel C. G. Watkins


The two-board top of the upper case is half-blind dovetailed to the multiple-board upper-case sides. The pins vary in size, being smaller with thinner necks toward the back of the case. A two-part crown molding is fixed with brads and wood-filled fasteners to the top of the case. The joint between the upper case sides and the two-board upper-case bottom is concealed by rectangular glue blocks. The upper-case back consists of three horizontal boards fixed with rosehead nails into rabbets in the case sides. Behind the top rail of the upper case are three horizontal glue blocks, below which are tip rails nailed to the case sides with brads. Below the full-width upper drawer is a shallow drawer divider. Underneath the three shorter drawers below is a full-depth two-board drawer divider. Into these dividers are tenoned the uprights between the short drawers, faced, like the drawer dividers and stiles below, with double half-round moldings nailed on with brads. Drawer supports are fixed with rosehead nails to the case sides, interspersed with later rectangular drawer stops glued into the corners of the case. The three small and four long upper-case drawer fronts, each veneered and crossbanded, meet their slightly shorter, flat-top drawer sides in dovetail joints, having large, finely-cut, narrow-necked pins, with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The smaller drawers have single-board bottoms, the larger drawer bottoms have three boards; all are perpendicular to the fronts. The bottoms are nailed with brads in the front and back, and are full-width, with applied runners. The single-board lower-case backboard meets the single-board, scallop-skirted lower-case sides in half-blind dovetail joints, having large, finely-cut thick-necked pins with half-pins above and below. At the top of the lower case is a three-sided frame, mitered at the front corners and fixed with rosehead nails to vertical blocks in each corner of the case and to the tops of the case sides. This frame, together with a narrow strip atop the backboard, comprises a platform for the upper case. Within the case are drawer guides, one each attached to the case side and two within the case, tenoned through the case back and set into the uprights between the drawers in front. Each drawer has a support set into a groove in the backboard and into a half-lap joint reinforced with brads in the skirt board. The deeply scalloped front and side skirts are edged with a thin wood strips held on with rosehead nails. The lower-case drawers are constructed in a manner similar to the upper-case small drawers. There is a rectangular cap atop each of the deeply turned vase, reel and inverted cap-turned legs, joined by partially restored flat stretchers and bun feet. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, August, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

See also


Lester Margon, More American Furniture Treasures, 1620–1840 (New York: Architectural Book Publishing, 1971), 240–241.
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), 154n2, 161n4.