Lot 225
  • 225

The Important Trask Family Pilgrim Century Oak, Maple and Walnut Chest with Drawer, attributed to the Symonds Shop, Salem, Massachusetts, probably James Symonds, circa 1690

30,000 - 60,000 USD
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  • oak
  • Height 29 1/2 in. by Width 47 1/4 in. by Depth 21 1/2 in.
Several moldings replaced.


William Trask II (1640-1691) or his son, John Trask (1678-1737), both of Salem Village (now Danvers);
William Trask III (1702-1748), son of John;
William Trask IV (1744-1806), son;
Martha (Trask) Bullock (1777-1866), daughter;
Isaac Bullock (1800-1870), son;
William Blake Trask (1812-1906), first cousin;
New England Historical and Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts;
Sotheby's New York, Important Americana, January 25, 1990, sale 5968, lot 1243;
Israel Sack In., New York;
Sotheby's New York, Selections from Israel Sack, inc., January 20. 2002, sale 7761, lot 1380


The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, 1870 and 1912-after 1968 (loan no. 931.12)


William Blake Trask(e), "Captian William Traske and Some of His Decendants," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. LV (July 1901), pp. 321-338;
Benno M. Forman, The Seventeenth Century Case Furniture of Essex County, Massachusetts and Its Makers, (Newark, DE: MA thesis, University of Delaware, 1968), pp. 108-110, cat. III; 
Benno M. Forman, "The Osborne Family Chest Re-Discovered," Historical New Hampshire 26, no. 1 (Spring 1971): 27–30, fig 2.;
Israel Sack, Inc., American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, vol. 10, p. 2544, P6264;
Christie's New York, The Joseph and Bathsheba Pope Valuables Cabinet, January 21, 2000, sale 9426, p. 21. The chest is discussed but not illustrated;
Willoughby, Martha H. "Patronage in Early Salem: The Symonds Shops and Their Customers." American Furniture, (Milwaukee, WI: Chipstone Foundation, 2000), p. 171-2, 175, figs. 5 and 6;
Israel Sack, Inc., advertisement, Magazine Antiques, (May 2001), inside front cover.


Two bottom boards of chest compartment replaced. chest compartment with later vertical wooden divider. Patched mouse hole in back. Proper left knob replaced. Several molding on front replaced.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

This chest is attributed to the Symonds shop, a family of joiners whose work represents the height of the seventeenth-century joinery tradition in the Salem, Massachusetts region. Founded by John (ca. 1595-1671), who came to Salem in 1636 from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, the shop tradition was continued by his sons, Samuel (1638-1722), who worked in central Essex County, and James (1633-1747), who worked in the Salem area and trained his sons John, Jr. (1666-1728/9) and Thomas (1677-1758) in the business as well as a number of apprentices. Eight case pieces attributed to the Symonds shop -- four cabinets, three chests, and a cupboard -- can be connected with their original owners, three of these are dated and marked with their owner's initials. The pieces are the focus of the article by Martha H. Willoughby, ``Patronage in Early Salem: The Symonds Shops and Their Customers," published in American Furniture 2000, p. 169-84.

This one-drawer chest descended in the Trask family of Salem and was probably originally commissioned by John Trask (1678-1737) around the time of his marriage to Hannah Osborne (1679-1721). It descended through three generations of their family to William Blake Trask (1812-1906), who donated the piece to the New England Historical and Genealogical Society in 1902. An article by William published a year earlier shows the chest in the Boston Street house in Salem of his great-great-great grandfather, William (1640-1691), one of the founders of Salem. Another one-drawer chest attributed to the Symonds shop may have originally been owned by Hannah Osborne Trask or her brother John Osborne (1671-1744) (see Willoughby, fig. 9, p. 177). A genealogical chart showing possible lines of descent for these two chests is illustrated in Willoughby, fig. 6, p. 175.

Other case pieces attributed to the Symonds shop that are associated with original owners include: a valuables cabinet with the initials of Thomas Buffington (1639-1728) and Sarah Southwick (1644-1733) of Salem (see Willoughby, fig. 1, p. 170); another with the initials of Ephraim Herrick (1638-1693) and Mary Cross (1640-1693) of Beverly (see Willoughby, fig. 2, p. 171); a third with the initials of Joseph Pope (1650-1712) and Bathsheba Folger (1652-1726) sold at Christie's, The Joseph and Bathsheba Pope Valuables Cabinet, January 21, 2000, sale 9426 (see Willoughby, fig. 3, p. 172); a fourth that belonged to Thomas Hart (d. 1731) of Lynnfield (see Willoughby, fig. 4, p. 173); a one-drawer chest owned by Nathaniel (1670-1749) and Rebecca (1671-1760) Raymond of Beverly (see Willoughby, fig. 10, p. 177); and a cupboard that descended from Lieutenant Stephen Putnam (1694-1772) and his wife, Miriam Putnam (b. 1698) (see Willoughby, figs. 11-12, p. 178-9).