DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN FURNITURE AND FOLK ART FROM THE COLLECTION OF ANNIE ABRAM AND STEVE NOVAK
It is one of a group of high chests made in Northeastern Massachusetts of the same form, with a flattened urn spiral-twist finial, rounded projections in the scrollboard openings, flat side drawers at the top of the upper case, a blocked central drawer with a carved shell, three flattened arches across the skirt with pendant drops, and attenuated cabriole legs with pad feet. A similar high chest of mahogany at Winterthur singed by Benjamin Frothingham Jr. (1743-1809) of Charlestown has related design features and carving.1 This chest and its matching dressing table, also at Winterthur, may have been originally owned by Nathaniel Richards (1712-1788), an innholder and saddler of Roxbury.2
The side of the bottom drawer of the upper case is branded T. Michell, likely the name of its original owner. During the colonial period, it was common to brand furniture, particularly in urban areas, with the name of the owner. For in the event of a fire, this brand identified the owner and proved ownership of furniture evacuated from the home.
1 See Nancy Richards and Nancy Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur (Winterthur, DE: The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1997), no. 162, pp. 313-5.
2 See Boston Furniture of the Eighteenth Century (Boston: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1974): fig, 154 and 155, pp. 224 and 227.
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