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Home | Articles | Chippendale Cherrywood Flat-Top Chest-On-Chest

Signed by Bates How (1776–?)
Canaan, Connecticut or New Marlborough, Massachusetts, circa 1795
Height 81” Width 41” Depth 18”
Courtesy of David A. Schorsch American Antiques, Inc.; private collection.

The cabinetmaker Bates How, born in Canaan (Litchfield County), Connecticut, in 1776, is best known to furniture scholars as the maker of an idiosyncratic three-drawer oxbow chest with rope-twisted quarter columns, gadroon-carved base molding, and ball-and-claw feet in the Garvan collection at Yale, which is signed and dated 1795 and illustrated in Gerald W. R. Ward, American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (New Haven), pp. 142–143, fig. 63.

This chest-on-chest was first published and exhibited in the 1960s as attributed to Bates How. It was recently found to be inscribed “Made by Bates How,” making this only the second known piece signed by How. Both of the signed How pieces exhibit the unusual construction feature of backboards dovetailed to the sides of the case with drawer runners tenoned through the backboards. Recent scholarship advanced by Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans in New England Furniture at Winterthur, pp. 403–404, suggests that Bates How was associated with the cabinetmaker Reuben Bemen, Jr.

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