the Other One

The other box with a drawer, without its drawer. How’s that for confusing?

Here’s two shots I got years ago from Trent of the “other” Thomas Dennis box w drawer. But it’s been chopped down & its drawer is missing. This one’s in Historic New England’s collection, published in one of the books I mentioned last night – Brock Jobe and Myrna Kaye, New England Furniture: the Colonial Era (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1984)

box HNE


HNE box overall B



What’s even better is that there is documentary evidence that Thomas Dennis made this furniture form – there’s a deposition in the Essex County Court Records, cited in the Irving Lyon articles also mentioned last time:

“March 28, 1682 Thomas Dennis deposed that Grace Stout bought a carved box with a drawer in it of him in 1679 and it had two locks, ” for which he was paid 2/6.

(2 shillings, 6 pence – more than a day’s wages…but not 2 days’ wages. Then there’s the price of the locks to consider…) 

Here’s a detail from the Bowdoin one just so we can have them both in mind. For me, the exciting stuff about Dennis’ best carvings is the great variety. Never repeats, even thought the “vocabulary” is clearly evident.

Dennis - 193


6 thoughts on “the Other One

  1. I note a color shift between the drawer front and the case front. Also I notice the punched ground is of different condition as that of the drawer face. Could the drawer face be replaced? The dovetailed construction of the drawer sides you noted seems quite peculiar. The drawer of the Smith-Collins chest was not constructed the same way. Certainly size would play a role but the difference in construction is noteworthy.

  2. Peter
    Your first post convinced me that there was something new under the sun – a two drawer box. This next post suggests once again that there is nothing new under the sun, though I find the comment Mr. Erik Gronning interesting, could you speak to that?

  3. I think the Bowdoin box w drawer is all legit – i.e. no replacements. It was in the family until it came to Bowdoin in recent memory. I think the color discrepancy Erik noted can be put on the flash photography Ted Curtin used when shooting it 20 years ago. As far as drawer construction goes, one problem is that this is the only one – thus nothing to compare it to. I don’t know the “Smith/Collins” chest Erik mentioned; unless it’s the one that used to be on loan to the MFA and sold recently in New York. If it’s that one, that’s the only Thomas Dennis chest with its original drawer. (we knew it as the “Reed” chest) BUT, it’s a chest, & this is a box. Trent pointed out to me recently that the Newbury, MA dressing boxes (one at Winterthur, and another at the MFA) use this same sliding DT drawer side-to-front joinery. About the punched work – I think there’s just more room to get around on the drawer front, so easier to get a deeper strike. Tighter quarters on the box front’s carving – so more difficulty.
    I plan on going back to Bowdoin this year to study this box in detail.

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