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Chest of Drawers

1820-1840
Origin: America, Tennessee, Greene County (probably)
OH: 28 1/2"; OW:29"; OD:17 1/4"
Cherry, basswood, and maple (inlay)
Museum Purchase, The Sara and Fred Hoyt Furniture Fund
Acc. No. 2013-60
Appearance: Chest of Drawers; overhanging top with square edge; three graduated inset drawers outlined with with string inlay; inlaid diamond shaped wood escutcheons; oval stamped brasses (not orginal); shaped front skirt and integral shaped bracket feet; rope or herringbone inlay across top rail frames top drawer and extends down stiles to top of middle drawer where it terminates with tassels; rope/herringbone inlay on the front and side skirts visually divides chest from feet.

Construction: The cherry front upper rail and basswood rear upper rail or sub-top are dovetailed to the cherry sides. The cherry front lower rail/shaped skirt and basswood rear lower rail are tenoned into the sides as are the cherry drawer blades. The cherry top is either attached to the sides with sliding dovetails or glued and nailed (through the top) to the upper rails/sub-top and sides. The three horizontal basswood tongue and groove boards are nailed into rabbets in the sides and to the edge of the rear upper rail/sub-top. The bracket feet are integral with the sides and are joined at the front to the shaped ends of the skirt and at the rear with the shaped extensions of the bottom backboard. Glue blocks support the joining of the shaped skirt and front legs.

Drawer supports are nailed to the sides behind the drawer blades and between the front and rear lower rails. A board to prevent tipping of the top drawer is nailed above the drawer on the proper right between the front and rear upper rails.

Original nails are cut nails with shaped heads. Drawer blades are relieved on the underside for lock tongues.

Drawers are of dovetail construction with cherry fronts and basswood sides, backs and bottoms. Bottoms are rabbeted along the sides and front to fit into dados in the fronts and sides and are nailed from below to the edge of the backs; lower two drawers have two board bottoms joined with tongue and grooves.
Label:This chest appears to be the work of an unknown craftsman working in Greene County in the northeast corner of Tennessee. Rope-and-tassel inlays like those on this chest were used on a number of corner cupboards from the region during the first quarter of the 19th century. While basswood is an unusual choice of secondary wood for most Tennessee furniture and is more typical of New England chests and boxes of the early 19th century, the Linden tree, from which basswood is cut, is native to Greene County. The small size of this chest and the late foot design combined with the earlier rope and tassel inlay suggests this was a bespoke object with sentimental ties to slightly earlier Greene County inlay traditions.