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From: Gronning and Coes, "The Early Work of John Townsend in the Christopher Townsend Shop Tradition,"American Furniture(2013):27
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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker Christopher Townsend, 1701–1787
Repairer James Taylor, 1739–1826


70 40 21 1/2 in. (177.8 101.6 54.61 cm)



Current location

Private Collection


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


Mahogany and mahogany veneer (primary); chestnut (drawer sides and backs, bottom of lower drawer of upper case, drawer runners, Quaker locks of upper drawers [or hickory?], top and bottom boards of upper case, some drawer supports, most horizontal and all vertical drawer divider backings, horizontal board at top of lower case, backboard of lower case, side rails at top of lower case, and some glue blocks); pine (drawer bottoms [except where noted], backboards of upper case, some drawer guides, and some glueblocks); yellow poplar (some drawer supports, horizontal board at back of upper case, backing of drawer divider under top long drawer of upper case, bottoms of lower drawers of lower case, some drawer guides, and vertical rails of lower case front)


“Christ Townsend made 1748,” in graphite, on interior bottom of upper case; “Made 1748,” in graphite, on interior back back of upper case


“2,” in chalk, on interior back of proper-left upper drawer; “J[?]C,” in chalk, on exterior back of upper case, “X,” incised on exterior back of upper case; “X,” incised on the proper-right interior case side and the proper-right side of the interior top [near their juncture]; “2,” in chalk on underside of drawer divider under top long drawer of upper case; illegible mark, in chalk, on interior front of proper-left lower drawer; “4,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-left lower drawer; illegible marks, in chalk, on interior sides of lower middle drawer; “Repaired by J[...?] Taylor 1786,” in graphite, on interior of case bottom; "Bureau Aunt Margaret Morris Newport, R.I.," on old paper in one of the drawers [missing in April 2014]


Margaret Morris, Newport, Rhode Island. Captain William van Deursen (born 1752), Newport, Rhode Island, and Middletown, Connecticut. Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Connecticut; sold to Mr. and Mrs. William C. Harding, Norwich, Connecticut, by 1961. Mrs. Eleanor B. Conary, Bethel, Maine. Mr. and Mrs. Earl B. Randall, by 1965. Israel Sack, Inc., New York, 1988. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lee Gill, New York, before 2004. Christie's, New York, January 15–16, 2004, lot 459. Private collection, 2014

Associated names

Captain William van Deursen
Eleanor B. Conary
Israel Sack, Inc.
Mrs. William C. Harding
William C. Harding
Earl B. Randall
Mrs. Earl B. Randall
Margaret Morris
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lee Gill
Nathan Liverant and Son


The upper case has a two-board top joined to its two-board sides with dovetails, concealed by a one-piece crown molding. The upper case back consists of three horizontal lap-jointed boards, attached in rabbets in the case top and sides and to the back edge of the bottom board with rosehead nails. The top and bottom rails fit into grooves in the case sides. The drawer dividers are attached to the sides with half-blind dovetail joints. The two-short and three long thumb-molded and graduated drawer fronts are affixed to their arched-top drawer sides (just shy of the drawer front tops) with dovetail joints, having large finely cut pins with half-pins above and half-pins and grooves below. The drawer back tops are flat. The multiple-board drawer bottoms, parallel to the drawer fronts, fit into grooves in the fronts, and have applied runners at the sides. The lower case has a single-board, straight-skirted back, dovetailed to its two-board, scalloped-skirted sides, with a single long drawer over two deep and one shallow small drawers, above a scalloped skirt centering a molded drop and turned finial. The long drawer has full-depth drawer supports set into grooves in the back board. Drawer guides above the supports are nailed with brads into the case sides. The lower drawers have drawer guides nailed with rosehead nails (now missing) into the case sides and drawer guides set in grooves in the back board and tenoned and pinned into the backs of the skirtboard stiles. The stiles have angled ends and their attachment to the skirtboard is reinforced with vertical glue blocks on the inside faces. The central small drawer support is dovetailed into the skirtboard and nailed with brads into a shaped glue block above the center of the skirt. The cabriole legs are of the "detachable" sort, held into the case corners with vertical, rectangular glue blocks. They are square-sectioned, have sharp knees, and end in angular slipper feet. Examined by P.E. Kane and W.S. Braznell; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.



Christie's, New York, Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, Prints, and 20th Century Self-Taught and Outside Art, sale cat. (January 15–16, 2004), 248–49, lot 459, ill.
Alice Winchester, "Frontispiece," Antiques 79, no. 5 (May 1961): 450, ill. frontispiece, ill.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 40, fig. 1.24.
Ada R. Chase, "History in Towns: Norwich, Connecticut," Antiques 79, no. 6 (June 1961): 564, ill.
Jeanne Vibert Sloane, "John Cahoone and the Newport Furniture Industry," Old-Time New England 72 (1987): 110, fig. 10.
Joseph K. Ott, The John Brown House Loan Exhibition of Rhode Island Furniture, exh. cat. (Providence: The Rhode Island Historical Society, 1965), 86–87, 167, no. 57, ill.
Luke Beckerdite, "The Early Furniture of Christopher and Job Townsend," American Furniture (2000): 15–16, fig. 28–29.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005), 49, 51, fig. 38–39.
Christie's, New York, Fine American Furniture, Silver, Folk Art, and Decorative Arts, sale cat. (January 24, 1987), 136–137, lot 291, ill.
American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, 10 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Highland House Publishers, 1957–89), vol. 9, p. 2391, no. P5984, ill.
Erik K. Gronning and Amy Coes, "The Early Work of John Townsend in the Christopher Townsend Shop Tradition," American Furniture (2013): 27–28, fig. 61–62.
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), 216, 217n1, 451, 455n9, no. 31, fig. 3.
William C. Ketchum Jr., American Cabinetmakers: Marked American Furniture, 1640-1940 (New York: Crown Publishers, 1995), 342, ill.