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Photo: Courtesy The Chipstone Foundation, Fox Point, Wis., accession no. 1958.2
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Dressing table

Object number



Maker Job Townsend, Sr., 1699–1765


30 1/2 × 34 1/2 × 22 in. (77.47 × 87.63 × 55.88 cm)



Current location

The Chipstone Foundation


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


Mahogany (primary); white pine (backboard, drawer bottoms, drawer supports, inside guide for proper-right small drawer, and glue blocks on legs); yellow poplar (drawer sides and backs, horizontal drawer divider, inside guide for proper-left small drawer, and front posts)




“I,” in chalk, on center back and interior sides of upper drawer near front corners; illegible chalk [possibly “2”], on interior side of proper-right lower drawer near front corner; "DRESSING TABLE / Made by Job Townsend in 1746 / for Samuel Ward, who later / became Governor of the Colony / Original bill of sale in Rhode Island Historical Society at Providence. / Lent by Mrs. John Elliott," typed on label affixed to interior bottom of upper drawer; “Now owned by Mrs. Eleanor / Hall Saunders (Mrs. Donald / H. Saunders)," written at top of label affixed to interior bottom of upper drawer; “This mahogany lowboy made for Samuel Ward, / Governor of R.I., and member of First Continental Congress, by Job Townsend, / bill of sale (in R.I. Historical Society, / Providence, R.I.) dated July 1, 1746. / see photostat of it herewith.,” typed on a paper label affixed to the interior of the proper-right lower drawer bottom; “Mrs. John Elliott,” written in ink, on a white label with a red border affixed to the underside of the support for the proper-left lower drawer


Samuel Ward (1725–1776), Westerly, Rhode Island; by descent to his son, Samuel Ward; by descent to his son, Samuel Ward (1786–1839), New York; by descent to his daughter, Julia Ward Howe; by descent to her daughter, Mrs. John Elliott (née Maude Howe); by descent to her sister, Florence Howe Hall; by descent to her son, Samuel Prescott Hall; by descent to his daughter, Eleanor Hall Saunders, Washington, D. C.; sold to Polly Mariner Stone (1898–1995) and Stanley Stone (1896–1987), Fox Point, Wisconsin, 1978; bequeathed by Stanley Stone to The Chipstone Foundation, Fox Point, 1987

Associated names

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ward
Samuel Ward
Julia Ward Howe
Polly Mariner Stone
Maude Howe Elliot
Eleanor Hall Saunders
Samuel Prescott Hall
Stanley Stone
Florence Howe Hall
Samuel Ward


The oblong, two-board top has molded front and side edges; its square rear edge overhangs in back slightly. The top is secured to the case by screw pockets ? three in the outside face of the backboard and four in the board behind the top rail in the front of the case. Two additional, empty, screw pockets are behind these. There are rectangular horizontal glue blocks, some replaced, some missing, at the joints between the top and case sides and the top and case back. The case back is a single board with a straight and scalloped skirt, joined to its single-board, scallop-skirted case sides with half-blind dovetail joints. The means by which the top rail, the drawer divider (which is continuous across the front of the case), and the skirt board join the front stiles is covered by vertical strips of veneer. Supports and guides for the wide upper drawer are set into the case sides. The small drawers below have full height guides set into grooves in the backboard and into the case front (where they are also nailed), and guides with chamfered ends attached to the case sides. Each small drawer has a support set into a groove in the backboard and dovetailed to the skirtboard. There are three rectangular glue blocks (one is missing) under the drawer divider, at the joint between it and the skirtboard, behind the concave carved shell. The thumb-molded, kerf-marked long-drawer front meets its slightly shorter, arched-top sides in dovetail joints, with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The full-width, two-board drawer bottom, parallel to the front, is chamfered at the front, where it fits into a groove, and at the sides, where it is joined to the drawer sides underneath full depth runners. It is nailed with brads to the drawer back, the top of which is slightly chamfered at its outside edge. The small drawers are similarly configured, except for their full-width bottoms, perpendicular to the fronts, which are nailed with brads into rabbets in the drawer front and to the sides and back. The angular, sharp-kneed legs are of the ?detachable? sort, held into the case with vertical glue blocks, some now screwed and/or nailed into the case. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, May 16, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.


This dressing table is believed to be the one for which Job Townsend submitted a bill for "a Mahogany Dressing Table. . £13.10.--" to Samuel Ward in 1746, now in the Ward papers at the Rhode Island Historical Society.

See also


Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, American Furniture at Chipstone (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), 38–39, no. 17, ill.
Joseph Downs, "The Furniture of Goddard and Townsend," Antiques 52, no. 6 (December 1947): 427, fig. 1.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005), 38, fig. 25.
Luke Beckerdite, "The Early Furniture of Christopher and Job Townsend," American Furniture (2000): 12–14, fig. 21, 24–25.
Christie's, New York, Important American Furniture, Silver, Prints, Folk Art, and Decorative Arts, sale cat. (January 15–16, 1999), 128, referenced in the catalogue entry for lot 679.
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), 58n21, 204n3, 233n1, 452, fig. 18.