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Couch or daybed

Odessa, Delaware



Attributed to John Janvier Sr. (1749–1801)


38 1/2 in x 79 1/4 in x 38 1/2 in



Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of Sara Corbit Reese Pryor

Accession Number




Condition Notes

The legs, rails, and stretchers are all replacements.  The rear leg replacements are spliced into old rear stiles above the seat rails.  The back is the only late 18th century part that survives intact.


The couch descended to Mrs. Samuel F. (Sara Corbit Reese) Pryor III (1932–2019), from her mother, Harriet Hurd Curtis (1903–1971), daughter of Sara Clark Corbit (1871–1952), whose grandfather was Daniel Corbit, son of William Corbit, the original owner.


This couch or daybed is a mere fragment of the original, but it represents unique historical evidence in the biographies of the Corbit-Sharp House, its occupants, and the furniture-maker. Despite its overall condition, enough of the couch survives to document that it was originally a double-splat form and among the latest documented examples made in America.

William Corbit’s 1818 estate inventory listed a “couch & mattrass” in the “Back room North corner” on the first floor. Its $12 value was a relatively large sum, probably attributable mostly to the bedding. The daybed was among Corbit's property divided in 1845 between his two surviving direct descendants and heirs.

The reasons William Corbit ordered the antiquated form are not known, but its associations with frailty and/or the need to rest during the day suggest that its user--either Corbit or his wife--had a physical ailment that prescribed a comfortable and convenient place to retire during the day. 

The couch almost certainly came from John Janvier’s nearby shop.  The two pierced splats in the back were cut from the same template (with slight variations within the outline of the pattern) as that used for the Marlborough-leg set of chairs that Corbit also owned (acc. no. 1976.115).


Sweeney, Grandeur, 115.

Sweeney, “Corbit-Sharp House,” 881.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 76-77.