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Chest of four drawers

Odessa, Delaware

probably 1806


John Janvier, Jr. (1777-1850)


33-5/8 in x 40-3/8 in x 22 in


Mahogany; cherry (drawer fronts), tulip poplar (drawer sides, full dustboards), white cedar (drawer bottoms), and hard pine (drawer dividers, minor structural parts)

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of H. Rodney Sharp

Accession Number



“Made by Jo[hn] Janvier / at Cantwells Bridge” is in chalk on the underside of the case bottom; “Recd Febr 21st 1806 of Mr. Nathan Woodruff / The sum of £ 2 : 7 : 6 [illegible]” is written faintly in pencil on the outside bottom of the lowest drawer.

Condition Notes

The brasses are replacements; the left front and both rear feet are partial replacements.


Ex coll. H. Rodney Sharp


Long thought to be the work of John Janvier Sr. (1749-1801) based on a chalk inscription, this chest is likely the work of his son and namesake because of a second, faint pencil inscription on the lowest drawer that records receipt of a payment.  Such a record was likely made before the chest began to be used.  After the death of Janvier Sr., his son and namesake dropped "Jr." after his name.

The chest top slides onto the case in half-dovetail-shaped channels cut into the underside of the top board, construction technique associated with Eastern Massachusetts chests of the 1760s and later.  This innovation in Mid-Atlantic regional chests was also used by John Jr.'s brother Peregrine and by others who likely trained in the Janvier shop.  Another feature of interest lies in the mahogany veneers used on the drawer fronts.  They are glued to cherry front boards, which are often made of hard pine.  Cherry was likely selected because it expands and contracts like mahogany, and therefore does not lead to splitting of the veneers and eventual delamination.


Norcini, “John Janvier, Sr.,” pl. VI, fig. 7.

Zimmerman, “Innovation,” 158–61.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 93-94.