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Photo: Courtesy Sumpter Priddy
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Chest of drawers

Object number



Maker, probably by John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809


Case: 34 3/4 19 in. (88.3 48.3 cm)



Current location

Private Collection


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


Mahogany (primary); mahogany (top drawer sides); yellow poplar (all other drawer linings, drawer dividers, supports and guides); chestnut (back board, bottom drawer supports, blocks at rail and bottom board, tip bars, blocks at top battens); pine (sides of top drawer compartments, bottom board); and maple (top battens)




Sumpter Priddy III, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia, 2014

Associated names

Sumpter Priddy III, Inc.


The oblong, single-board top has molded front and side edges; its square rear edge slightly overhangs the case back. A single-piece beaded cove molding is fixed to the front and side overhangs and extends slightly beyond the caseback, where it returns upon itself. The molding is fixed to the top and to the single-board case sides with wood-filled fasteners. Fixed to the underside of the top are two broad longitudinal battens, one in front and one in back, accompanied by longitudinal rectilinear glue blocks at the joints between top and battens. These battens are probably dovetailed to the case sides. There is a screw in each rear corner of the rear batten, attaching it to the top. Presumably the front batten is similarly attached, under the glue blocks behind the top rail. Tip bars are glued to blocking at the top of the case sides. The case back consists of four half-lapped horizontal boards (one replaced) fixed in a regular pattern of rosehead nails to the back edge of the rear transverse batten under the top, to rabbets in the case sides, and to the back edge of the case bottom. Fixed to the inside front of the case sides with rosehead nails are large vertical stiles providing blocking for the quarter columns. Coplanar with these stiles are lateral blocks providing backup for drawer supports, nailed to them with brads. Some of the proper left lateral blocks? chamfered ends are chiseled out to accommodate rosehead nails. Large transverse blocks provide support for the bottom drawer. Behind both the top and bottom rails are three longitudinal chamfered glue blocks. These nails are set into grooves in the case sides; the drawer dividers are half-blind dovetailed to the sides. Horizontal cockbeading is integral; the vertical is nailed to the vertical blocks within the case sides with brads. Each front corner is occupied by a quarter column assembly consisting of an upper rectangular block, separate abacus, capital, stop-fluted shaft, base, plinth and lower rectangular block. The flat-faced, very slightly kerf-marked graduated drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter flat-topped sides in dovetail joints having finely cut pins of slightly varying configuration, with half-pins above and large half-pins with grooves below. The top of the upper-drawer?s sides are flush with the drawer front and double-beaded. This drawer contains fitted partitioned compartments, with removable lids, and a hinged bracket supporting a framed dressing mirror. Some elements of these fittings are replaced. The partitions are fixed in part by nails through the rear face of the drawer back. The single-board drawer bottoms are parallel to the fronts where they are set into grooves. The bottoms are full-width; their connection with the drawer sides is concealed by runners. The drawer bottoms are nailed with brads to the flat-topped backs. At each end of the drawer-back?s outside corners, just inward of the dovetail corner, is glued a thin rectangular wood drawer-stop. The inside of the drawer fronts and bottoms and the case sides have extensive toothing plane marks. The case?s single-piece ogee base molding is attached with wood-filled fasteners. The two-board case bottom meets the case sides in dovetail joints having finely cut, thick-necked pins. The feet, which have undergone some repair and replacement of parts, consist of shaped horizontal blocks mitered at each case corner and glued to the case bottom. To these are fixed shaped vertical blocks, and the whole is faced with ogee brackets. The back-facing brackets of the rear feet are simple, straight-profiled ogee boards set into grooves in the side-facing ogee brackets. Back-facing ogee blocks beside the side?facing ogee brackets both project beyond the plan of the case back. Nails in the front board of the case bottom connect it to the case?s bottom rail, and later nails inside the front feet join the case bottom to blocking within the case. Examined by P.E. Kane, April 18, 2019; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

See also


"Sumpter Priddy III, Inc., advertisement," Antiques and Fine Art 13, no. 3 (Winter 2014): 47, ill.