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Peter Follansbee and Robert F. Trent
Reassessing the London-Style Joinery and Turning of Seventeenth-Century Boston

American Furniture 2010

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Chest of drawers with doors, Boston, Massachusetts, 1640–1670. White oak, red oak, chestnut, maple, black walnut, red cedar, cherry, cedrela, snakewood, rosewood, and lignum vitae with red oak, white oak, and white pine. H. 48 7/8", W. 45 3/4", D. 23 3/4". (Courtesy, Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Detail of the chest of drawers with doors illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Admission record for Ralph Mason, Master’s and Warden’s Account Books, Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers, London, 1621–1828. (Courtesy, Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers, Surrey, England; photo, Peter Follansbee.)

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Gravestone of Henry Messinger Jr., Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts, 1686. (Photo, Peter Follansbee.)

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    “An English Cabinet formerly the property of King Charles 1st at Theobalds,” from Charles James Richardson, Studies from Old English Mansions Their Furniture Gold & Silver Plate &c. by an Architect, 1st ser., 6 vols. (London: T. McLean, 1841–48), 1: pl. 19. (Courtesy, Winterthur Library, Printed Books and Periodicals Collection; photo, Jim Schneck.) The scale on the image indicates that the press is about five feet tall and probably was intended for books. The base appears to be a nineteenth-century addition. Originally there may have been a separate base or plinth.

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Cabinet and chest of drawers, London, England, ca. 1628–1630. Woods not recorded. H. 59 1/2", W. 41 1/2", D. 16". (Courtesy, Edwin Willson and David Gill, Mary Bellis Antiques, Hungerford, Berkshire.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Interior view of the cabinet and chest of drawers illustrated in fig. 6. The upper section has a dovetailed board case, whereas the lower section has joined construction.

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Chest of drawers with doors, London, England, 1650–1670. Oak, ebony, cocobolo (a pale tropical hardwood), mother-of-pearl, bone, and possibly ivory with unidentified secondary woods. H. 51 1/4", W. 46 1/2", D. 25 1/2". (Sotheby’s, A Celebration of the English Country House, New York, April 15, 2010, lot 43.) Several of the inlaid and ebonized oak plaques are missing, and the applied half-columns and feet are replacements.

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Detail of the chest of drawers with doors illustrated in fig. 8, showing evidence of riving on the interior of the upper case. Most of the framing members and some of the panels are made of riven lumber, while the drawer bottoms, rear panels, and the top of the upper case are made of sawn lumber.

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Rear view of the chest of drawers with doors illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Detail showing the drawer construction of the chest of drawers with doors illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The drawers are dovetailed at the front and nailed at the back.

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Detail of the chest of drawers with doors illustrated in fig. 8, showing the lipped tenon on one end of the lower front rail of the lower case. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Detail of lipped tenons on a chest with two drawers, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, 1650–1690. (Courtesy, Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts.)

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Detail of the chest of drawers with doors illustrated in fig. 1, showing the lipped tenon of the upper front rail of the lower case. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Armchair attributed to Kenelm Winslow, Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1640–1660. Red oak. H. 42", W. 24", D. 15". (Courtesy, Pilgrim Society, Pilgrim Hall Museum, gift of Abby Frothingham Winslow, 1882.)

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Detail of the back of the crest of the armchair illustrated in fig. 15. (Photo, Peter ­Follansbee.)

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Chest of drawers 1640-70. Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Oak, chestnut, cedrela, black walnut, and ebony with oak and white pine. H. 51 1/4", W. 47 3/16", D. 23 1/16". (Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler.)

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Cupboard with drawers, Boston, Massachusetts, 1670–1690. Oak, maple, walnut, cedar, and chestnut with oak and white pine. H. 55 5/8", W. 49 3/8", D. 21 3/4". (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The frieze ornaments and the top of the upper case are restored on the basis of those elements on the chest of drawers illustrated in fig. 17.

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Rear view of the cupboard with drawers illustrated in fig. 18. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Detail of the cupboard with drawers illustrated in fig. 18, showing the underside of the trapezoidal compartment in the upper case. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Chest, Boston, Massachusetts, 1650–1690. Red oak, black walnut, red cedar, and maple with oak and white pine. H. 26 1/8", W. 47 5/8", D. 21 1/2". (Courtesy, Historic New England; photo, Richard Cheek.) The lower drawer, framework, and feet are missing.

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Chest, Boston, Massachusetts, 1650–1690. Oak, cedrela, and walnut with oak and white pine. H. 30 1/2", W. 45", D. 20 1/2". (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Detail of the scratch-stock molding on the interior of the chest illustrated in fig. 22. (Photo, Luke Beckerdite.)

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Chest, Boston, Massachusetts, 1660–1690. Oak, walnut, and maple with oak. H. 19 3/4", W. 46 1/4", D. 20". (Private collection; photo, courtesy of the owner.) The chest is missing one or two drawers below the storage compartment. The lid is replaced.

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Chest, Boston, Massachusetts, 1670–1690. Red oak and black walnut with white pine and hemlock. H. 36 1/4", W. 36 1/2", D. 21 1/4". ­(Courtesy, Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1909; photo, Gavin Ashworth/Art Resource, NY.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Round leaf table, Boston, Massachusetts, 1660–1690. Oak, black walnut, cedrela, and maple with oak and white pine. H. 28 3/4", W. 29", D. 29" (open). (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The table is missing the molding around the lower shelf and its turned feet.

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Round leaf table, Boston, Massachusetts, 1660–1690. Red cedar, cedrela and maple with oak and white pine. H. 33 1/4", W. 40 1/4", D. 20". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The top, feet, fly rail, and pendants are restored.

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Square table, (oak table base), Boston, Massachusettts, 1650–1680. Oak. H. 27 7/8", W. 34", D. 34 1/8". (Collection of Shelburne Museum, gift of George G. Frelinghuysen II. 1965-336.8. Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The top and the bottom portions of the feet are missing.

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Cabinet, Boston, Massachusetts, 1650–1690. Cedrela, chestnut, oak, ash, and cedar with white pine. H. 22 3/8", W. 32 5/8", D. 11 1/2". (Courtesy, Wadsworth Atheneum, Nutting­ ­Collection; photo, Art Resource, NY.) Several moldings and interior drawers are replaced.

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Cabinet, Boston, Massachusetts, 1660–1690. Mahogany and cedrela with oak and white pine. H. 18 5/8", W. 17 1/2", D. 9". (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) One foot, several moldings, the edges of the bottom board, and the hinges are restored.

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Cabinet, Boston, Massachusetts, 1660–1690. Oak, walnut, cedar, and lignum vitae with oak and white pine. H. 16 1/2", W. 16 1/2", D. 8 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Detail of the large and small applied half-columns on the chest of drawers with doors illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Detail of a panel on the chest of ­drawers with doors illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Chest of drawers, Boston, Massa­chusetts, 1690–1710. Cedrela with oak and white pine. H. 34", W. 33 1/8 ", D. 21 3/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Chest of drawers, Boston, Massachusetts, 1670–1700. Walnut with oak and white pine. H. 35 3/4", W. 37 5/8", D. 21 7/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 36
    Figure 36

    Detail of the chest of drawers illustrated in fig. 35, showing the hewing marks on the interior surface of a side panel of the upper case. (Photo, Luke Beckerdite.)

  • Figure 37
    Figure 37

    Chest of drawers, Boston, Massachusetts, 1670–1700. Walnut with oak and white pine. H. 35 3/4", W. 37 3/4", D. 23 1/8". (Private collection, photo, Mark HeVron.) This chest has all of its original hardware.

  • Figure 38
    Figure 38

    Detail of the chest of drawers illustrated in fig. 37, showing the spectral mortise on reused lumber. Reused lumber occurs on London case pieces but has not previously been recorded in Boston work.

  • Figure 39
    Figure 39

    Chest of drawers, Boston, Massachusetts, 1660–1700. Oak, black walnut, red cedar, maple, and possibly cedrela, with oak, chestnut, and white pine. H. 37 7/8", W. 39 1/2", D. 23 1/2". (Courtesy, Historic New England.)

  • Figure 40
    Figure 40

    Chest of drawers, Boston, Massachusetts, 1670–1700. Red cedar and possibly rosewood with oak and pine. H. 35", W. 38 5/8", D. 23 1/4". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The fronts of both case sections, the top of the upper case, and the larger and smaller moldings are made of red cedar. The chamfered edges of the cushion panel appliqués on the deep drawer are thick red cedar veneers. Because the maker intended to cover the drawer fronts completely with ornaments, he made the cores out of white pine.

  • Figure 41
    Figure 41

    Chest of drawers, Boston, Massa­chusetts, 1690–1720. Red oak, white oak, white pine, and yellow pine with red oak, white oak, and white pine. H. 40", W. 40 1/2", D. 22". (Courtesy, Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. J. Insley Blair, 1948; photo, Gavin Ashworth/Art Resource, NY.)