my all-time favorite 17th-century joiners

Trent sent a note tonight about a joined chest with 2 drawers coming up for sale soon in New York. 

It’s an old favorite of mine, made in Braintree, Massachusetts between 1650-1700. Look:

braintree chest w drawers

Here’s the link to the auction –


In an article of agreement in connection with William Savell, Sr.’s 1669 will, the sons of William Savell, Sr. agree that the widow, Sarah (Mullins Gannett) Savell shall have “…her whole estate returned to her that she brought to Our ffather for her own use & to dispose of forever with a chest with drawers & a Cubbert…”  

the distinction here is “chest with drawers” – plural. Most of this group had a single drawer below the chest compartment. 

Back when I was doing the legwork research chasing these chests down, I saw two examples that had 2 drawers instead of the more typical single drawer. One of those is now in the Chipstone collection in Milwaukee, WI. This might be the other one, or now a third. I did see a piece of 20th-century homemade furniture that incorporated two drawers from one of these. That piece descended in the Hayward family from old Braintree. 

The article from years ago is:

Peter Follansbee and John Alexander, “Seventeenth-Century Joinery from Braintree, Massachusetts: the Savell Shop Tradition” in American Furniture, ed., Luke Beckerdite, (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England for the Chipstone Foundation, 1996) pp. 81-104

You can look it up on Chipstone’s website, but often you don’t get all the pictures there –

Fun stuff. 

[i].) for the will and inventory for William Savell Sr. see Suffolk County Registry of Probate (SCRP) #501, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston. 

7 thoughts on “my all-time favorite 17th-century joiners

  1. Peter, thanks for posting this, very interesting. I checked the auction site and was wondering what does “replaced feet” mean in the context of a chest like this?

    Take care,

    • Thanks, Peter. I figured that’s what it meant, but they sure did a nice job splicing and blending (although I did not magnify the image). You can barely make out a difference as I study it now though.

      Btw, I really like the 2 spoons I recently received from you…inspirational for my own efforts.

  2. Hi Peter,

    That’s a beautiful chest, thanks for the note and the link to the auction site. Out of curiosity..there’s no way in heck I’ll be allowed in the market for it!…..the auction house estimates it will fetch 1-2K. Is that realistic? I would have thought significantly higher than that. I guess we’ll find out on the 19th.

    Thanks again…it’s inspiring!


    • I gave up years ago trying to figure out this stuff. Replaced lid & feet will hurt the #s; but $2,000? Insane. That’s just an estimate of course. Good ones from this group in recent years were between 35k and 80k. If it was really headed for $2,000 I’d bid on it. I need a new chest around here, & can’t afford to make one for that price….

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