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Chest of Drawers

1831
Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Northumberland County
OH. 46 3/8" (117.79 cm.); OW. 43 3/4" (111.125 cm.); OD. 22" (55.88 cm.).
Tulip poplar, yellow pine, white pine, and paint
Bequest of Mrs. Effie Thixton Arthur
Acc. No. 1979.2000.3
Appearance: Chest with four lipped drawers graduated in size from top to bottom. Rectangular top with overhanging top and sides with molding applied under overhanging edge of top and sides. Paneled sides and back. Reverse balluster shaped turned feet extend from the case stiles. The locks and keyhole escutcheons (stamped brass with brass sprigs) appear to be original. Two round wooden knob drawer pulls on each drawer. Evidence of original pulls indicates they were single-post, nut and screw, brass pulls with brass plates. The painted decoration consists of a dark green base on the drawer fronts and side panels and a Prussian blue (now green due to yellowed varnish) base on the stiles and rails. Free- hand and stenciled ornaments in red, yellow, and white. Motifs include birds, daisy-type flowers, tulips, leaves, geometric compass stars, two figures kneeling/praying and pin- striping. The chest is dated 1831 in the yellow reserve at the front, center edge of the top.

Construction: The two board top is pegged to the upper front, back and side rails. The upper front rail and lower front rail/drawer blade are joined with pegged tenons to the front stiles. The upper and lower side and back rails and medial back rail are tenoned with double pegs to the stiles. All pegs are through-pegs. A single piece mitered top molding is nailed to the upper front and side rails and underside of the top.

The single board side panels are chamfered on the inside edges to fit into dados in the side rails and stiles. The two single board back panels are chamfered on the back edges to fit into dados in the back rails and stiles. The square stiles are turned at the bottom to form feet.

Drawer blades are in dadoes in the stiles from the rear. Drawer supports are tenoned to the drawer blades and notched and nailed to the back stiles. Drawer guides are nailed to the upper edge of the drawer supports. A modern drawer guide to prevent the top drawer from tipping is comprised of small blocks nailed to the upper front and upper back rail to which a front to back center rail is nailed. All nails in this assembly are modern brads.

The top and back of the case are yellow pine. The sides, stiles, top drawer blade and drawer supports are tulip poplar. The remaining drawer blades, top rail, drawer guides, top and back are yellow pine.

Drawers are of wedged dovetail construction with side-to-side grained bottoms chamfered on the underside to fit into dados in the fronts and sides, and nailed from the underside to the edges of the backs. Drawer fronts and sides are yellow pine, the backs of the two larger drawers are white pine, bottoms are tulip poplar as are the backs of the two smaller drawers.
Label:Made about 25 miles north of Harrisburg in the rural Schwaben Creek area of central Pennsylvania’s Northumberland County, this chest exhibits the very distinctive decoration used by a handful of local craftsmen during the 1830s and 1840s. Characteristic of these unknown makers are the six petal stamped red and yellow flowers framing the case and the use of symmetrical birds flanking the central flowers on the drawer fronts. The praying children on the lowest drawer were probably copied from similar examples on printed Pennsylvania German Fraktur (illuminated birth, baptismal, and marriage certificates) of the period. If you look closely at the case, you will notice that while the drawer fronts and end panels are green, the surrounding rails and stiles are blue. This color difference may have been slightly more obvious when originally painted.
Provenance:Bequest of Effie Thixton Arthur, Wilton, Connecticut.
Inscription(s):On the front edge of the top is painted "1831".