Oxbow front chest of drawers with three graduated drawers and built of heavy cherry stock stained to resemble mahogany, attributed to Bates How (1776-1801). White pine used as secondary wood, with birch legs. Bates How’s identity is obscure. He was born, married, and is burried in Canaan, Connecticut, but recent research indicates that he worked just over the border in New Marlborough, Massachusetts. He may have been born in Canaan, Connecticut, and worked in Kent/Litchfield County, Connecticut and New Marlborough, Massachusetts. Recent scholarship including that by Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans of Wintherthur Museum, and Julie Frey, Litchfield Historical Society curator of collections, suggests that Bates How trained in the New Marlborough shop of cabinetmaker Reuben Beman Sr. along with Beman's son, Reuben Beman, Jr. (1772–1814). Yale University has a nearly identical chest of drawers with the inscription, “This Buro was made / In the Year of our Lord / 1795 / by / Bates How” written in pencil on the back. The Yale chest is one of at least four others chests and a signed chest-on-chest. All have backboards dovetailed to the sides, drawer runners tenoned throught the back, and joints reinforced with screws. The top conforms to the reverse-serpentine shape of the case and features thumb-molded front and side edges that overhang the case. The top is screwed from underneath to a partial sub-top dovetailed to the case. The case holds three graduated drawers outlined with cockbeading on the case cut from the solid. Quarter-columns terminating in lambs-tongue chamfers are fitted into notched corner posts and are secured with screws. The backboards are dovetailed to the sides and the drawer supports are tenoned through the back. The case bottom is dovetailed to the sides and does not extend to the back. The base framework is joined with mortise and tenon joints and is screwed to the bottom boards. The moldings are screwed to the base frame. The drawer sides are dovetailed to the fronts and backs; the bottoms are rabbeted and let into grooves in the front and sides and nailed to the backs. The brasses and two of the three locks are original.
The base frame members are tenoned directly through the tops of the legs, which are carved with moldings and gadrooning to match the base. The backboards are dovetailed into the sides and the drawer supports are tenoned through the back. The combination of three deep drawers rather than the customary four, and ball-and-claw carved feet in place of ogee bracket feet differentiate this chest from others and links it to a nearly identical example that How signed and dated 1795.
Link to share this object record: