AMERICAN FEDERAL BOWFRONT CHEST OF DRAWERS
New England States c. 1800
This attractive chest features a mahogany veneered front with some of the most incredible selections of tight closed grain available. The square protruding top is molded and composed of two boards, each flawlessly matched to one another to create a visually seamless surface. The bowed drawers are quite uniquely ungraduated, meaning each drawer boasts dimensions that are nearly identical to each other in a range of 5 7/8" high (the middle two) and approximately 6 1/8" high (the top and bottom drawers).
Each drawer is delicately stringer inlaid, framing two replaced period oval pulls on each drawer stamped "E Pluribus Unum" with 13 stars. The edge of each drawer is lined with a thick cockbead molding that wraps around the dovetails and leaves each hidden. We believe the lock escutcheon is original, and the locking hardware may be original as well. The drawers are hand dovetailed at the front and back, constructed with pine secondary woods; the bottom board is chamfered around the edges and rabbets into the sides and face while being nailed at the back with hand forged iron rose heads. The face of the drawer is built up into the bow-form using multiple blocks of pine beneath the mahogany veneer. The drawer rabbets on the underside are unique, protruding quite significantly under the drawer before being lined with a thin piece of hardwood (presumably white oak) for the contact surface.
The case is dovetail construction, joining the solid Cherry two board sides into the pine bottom, and joined at the top with two pine boards beneath the top that both dovetail into the Cherry sides as well. These two pine boards are then screwed into the top of the case from underneath, each of the screws being replaced at some point in the 20th century, probably when it was refinished. The crossbars separating the drawers are dovetailed into the case and then covered with a thick veneer, visible on the left side where some veneer loss has exposed the dovetail joint.
The back of the case features heavily oxidized pine boards, each with original holes and iron staining from the original nails, but with no original nails. We believe this case was carefully taken apart during the refinishing process, then put back together to be structurally without weakness. A chalk inscription is visible on the back, illegible. The chest rests over french feet, each flaring outward, flanking a scalloped apron.
41" wide x 20 3/4" deep x 37 5/8" high
Refinished with scratches to chest throughout. Top board with an age crack, not visually detracting. Significant veneer repairs throughout, primarily to the apron and legs. Top reattached with new screws, and we believe the top is absolutely original to the piece. Most blocking in the legs is original, but some rebuilding has occurred - all of this is thoroughly documented in our images of the underside below. Back of chest reattached with modern nails, but each board is fully original to the chest. Lowest drawer has thin white oak runners added to the rabbets where some strength was lost over time and use. All hardware is replaced - the top right does not match the rest of the hardware and is visually out of place with the rest of the chest. All hardware is period (except the mismatched top right pull); the locks and lock escutcheons are possibly original. No key. Top drawer has a mahogany veneer patch beside the mismatched hardware. Cockbead molding patched throughout. Veneer loss where second drawer crossbar dovetails into case on the left. Structurally stable and sound. Feet original.