Essex County cupboards – related examples

lower case test assembly

Working on this reproduction cupboard project this year is more fun than I can stand. As part of it, I’ve been reviewing the notes from about 1998-2001 when I worked with Bob Trent and Alan Miller to research our article on the group. I dug out a few photos; I mostly shot slides then and they have since been tossed. But I have a few photos or color photocopies from the slides. 

much of this cupboard is original, much is not

The cupboard above was on loan to the Historical Society of Old Newbury (Massachusetts) when we spent a day or two studying it. It’s like the Gates of Eden – “the princess and the prince discuss what’s real and what is not.” Easy – the door is later. Some of the drawers too, although the arrangement of drawers is original. In fact the whole concept of the framing is original. And that’s the real kicker. Below is a side view

stack upon stack

This shop tradition (we don’t know who the joiners were who made these) loved the notion of overhanging segments. In this cupboard they outdid themselves. I tried time & time again to understand the sequence and relationship among the sections. One of my drawings to help me suss it out is below

part of the lower case

Here’s a detail of that rear section

up & over up & over

The one below isn’t really a cupboard, it’s a weird chest of drawers. That looks something like a cupboard. This photo is from a 1999 auction catalog when it was for sale. It had been restored in the late 19th/early 20th century and has since been re-restored. Trent & I wrote the catalog entry for the sale. It’s a stunning piece of work.

Now it’s part of the Chipstone collection in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, restored by our other co-author Alan Miller and his shop. Here’s the photo from Chipstone’s site showing what Alan came up with for the informed conjecture as to its possible original configuration.

These two examples make the one I’m doing look tame. Anybody wants to hire me, I’m ready to make one of these two next year – I’ll be all warmed up!

8 thoughts on “Essex County cupboards – related examples

  1. Good news on the tie dye! Somehow I didn’t write in my notes but to refresh my memory we decided that we would make the back posts with the ray plane facing forward-correct?

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. These cupboards are some of the ugliest pieces of furniture I’ve ever seen. Love it. Been loving this whole series, seeing your reproduction come to life.

      • Yes. To all of the above. They are indeed an acquired taste…

        I find them and the workmanship impressive, and I can admire them for what they are. I really liked the blog entry on the drawers, it takes off some of the pressure when making dovetailed drawers (though practice really speeds up the process, increases precision and makes it enjoyable).

  3. My brain keeps trying to restack them with the largest cases on the bottom. Just can’t make the overhangs stick.

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