|Stamped A.D. Allen, Windham, Connecticut, 1790-1800.
Provenance: George Smith (1773-1854) of Wethersfield, thence by descent to George Smith, Jr. (1811-1902) of Wethersfield, son Frank G. Smith (1855-1940) of Hartford, son Lucy Marguerite Smith Beebe (1893-1971), daughter Charles S. Beebe, son.
Literature: Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut Furniture: Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuries (Hartford, CT, 1967), p. 40-41. Houghton Bulkeley, "An Important Labelled Bureau," The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, vol. 30, no. 2 (April 1965), Edith Gaines, "Collectors' Notes," The Magazine Antiques (June 1966), p. 839.
Exhibited: Connecticut Furniture-Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuries, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, November, 1967.
Amos Denison Allen (1774-1855) trained in New London County as an apprentice with Colonel Ebenezer Tracy (1744-1803) from 1790 to 1795 and married Tracy's daughter, Lydia, in 1796. His Memorandum Book 1796-1803, currently in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society along with his apprenticeship papers, provides a careful listing of his output and clients during that period. In 1965, Houghton Bulkeley tabulated his memo book as follows: 799 chairs, 51 Pembroke tables, 40 bedsteads, 37 bureaus, 35 chests, 19 dining tables, 16 kitchen tables, 14 portrait frames, 8 clock cases, 8 two-drawer chests, 6 desks, 6 plain tables, 5 chests-on-chests, 2 cradles, 1 (inlaid) sideboard, 1 secretary, 1 looking glass, 1 bookcase, 1 schoolmaster's desk.
Ebenezer Tracy, his son Elijah (1766-1807) and nephew Stephen Tracy (1782-1866) all branded their chairs and Allen followed this habit. While chairs (predominantly the Windsor variety) were clearly the majority of his production, the chest offered here is the only known surviving example of casework that bears his distinctive brand. For more information on Amos Denison Allen, see Ada R. Chase, "Amos D. Allen, Connecticut cabinetmaker," The Magazine Antiques (August 1956), pp. 146-147.
According to family history, George Smith of Wethersfield (1773-1854) was reportedly the first owner of this chest. Smith's name does not appear in a careful review of his Memorandum Book; however, there are numerous other Smiths mentioned. At this time, any connections between these Smiths and George Smith are unknown.