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Photo: Courtesy Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn.
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Dressing table

Object number



Maker, attributed to Benjamin Peabody, 1717–1794


31 1/2 × 33 × 21 1/2 in. (80.01 × 83.82 × 54.61 cm)


probably 1758

Current location

Private Collection


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


Walnut (primary); chestnut (secondary)




"This lowboy was part of the wedding outfit of Mary Fish when she married / the Rev. John Noyes on Nov. 16th, 1758. He died in 1767 leaving her a widow / with three sons. On May 21st, 1775 she married Col. Gold Selleck Silliman, whose / first wife Martha Davenport died August 1st, 1774, leaving a son, William. / They had two sons, Selleck and Benjamin, the latter being the great grandfather / of Dorothy Silliman Wright Pugsley, the present owner of the lowboy. / November 30th, 1912.," in typewriter script, on a paper label glued to interior of top drawer


Mrs. John Noyes, then Mrs. Gold Selleck Silliman, then Mrs. John Dickinson (née Mary Fish, 1737–1818), Stonington, then New Haven, then Fairfield, and later Wallingford, Connecticut; by descent to her son, Benjamin Silliman (1779–1864), New Haven, Connecticut; by descent to his son, Benjamin Silliman, Jr. (1816–1895), New Haven, Connecticut; by descent to his daughter Mrs. Arthur Williams Wright (née Susan Forbes Silliman,1841-1890), New Haven, Connecticut; by descent to her daughter Mrs. Edwin Pugsley (née Dorothy Silliman Wright, 1883–1967), New Haven, Connecticut; by descent in her family; sold to Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Connecticut, 2017; sold to a private collection, 2017

Associated names

Mary Fish Silliman
Nathan Liverant and Son
Benjamin Silliman
Professor Benjamin Silliman, Jr.
Sarah Forbes Silliman
Dorothy Silliman Wright


The two-part top?s edge is molded on all four sides. Its oblong boards are held together by two "butterfly" joints and a narrow strip at its midpoint. Beneath the top is a cove molding face-nailed with brads to all four sides of the case and top. The top is secured to the case by two screw pockets on the inside face of the backboard, three screws in the underside of the case?s top rail, and by a medial batten fixed to the underside of the top, set into a groove in the back of the top rail and tenoned through the top of the backboard. The single-piece backboard meets the single-piece, scallop-skirted case sides in dovetail joints with pins of widely varying sizes, with half-pins below. The top pins are obscured by the cove molding. The face of the top rail is continuous across the front of the case, as is the face of the shallow dustboard/drawer divider below. Within the case, supports for the upper drawer are half-lapped to the drawer dividers in front and rabbeted in back. The proper left support sits on top of a vertical corner glueblock. At the midpoint of each drawer support is a circular hole, each aligning with a segmental indentation on the edge of the small-drawer guides below. These drawer guides are glued in place. Supports for the small drawers are half-lapped to the scalloped, shell-carved skirtboard and set into grooves in the case back. Small-drawer guides are toe-nailed into the back of the skirtboard and set into grooves in the case back. Rectangular blocks are glued into the spaces between the drawer divider, drawer guides and skirtboard. Below the guides are triangular blocks with segmental ends face-nailed to the back of the skirtboard. The joints between the case sides and the various elements of the case front are concealed by the continuous horizontal top rail, drawer divider and skirt board, and the vertical elements between them ? thin rectangular boards aligning with the drawer fronts. The upper-drawer front, lipped, thumb-molded, and prominently kerf-marked, meets its nearly flush, flat-topped sides in dovetail joints having thick-necked pins with half-pins above and below. The single-board (there is a later repair strip at the back) long-drawer bottom, parallel to the front, is chamfered at the front, and sides. The small-drawer fronts are similarly configured, with rabbets below the lower half-pins. Their flat, single-board bottoms, perpendicular to the fronts, are nailed with brads to the drawer sides and backs and into the rabbets in front. The rectangular upper portions of the "detachable" legs are held into the case corners by rectangular vertical glue blocks, some replaced. Some blocks have been reinforced with wood-filled fasteners. The knee brackets are held in with glue. The backs of the legs are angular almost to the bottom; the fronts are angular at the knee, with rounded ankles. The shod pad feet have incised heels. Examined by P.E. Kane, May 16, 2017; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

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See also


Patricia E. Kane, "'An Ingenious Man:' Benjamin Peabody, Newport Cabinetmaker," American Furniture (2021): (forthcoming).