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High chest of drawers

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



96 1/2 in x 44 1/2 in x 23 1/2 in


Walnut; white cedar (drawer bottoms, back boards of lower case, full dustboards, other structural woods [some of which may be white pine]), tulip poplar (drawer sides), sweet gum (also called red gum; some drawer sides in lower case), hard pine (back boards of upper case)

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of H. Rodney Sharp,

Accession Number



“GOVERNOR THOMAS MIFFLIN / OF PENNSYLVANIA / ORIGINAL OWNER” is engraved into a brass plaque on the inside of the small center drawer of the lower case. A printed paper label of Greenville (near Wilmington), Delaware, antiques dealer David Stockwell is on the inside bottom of the bottom drawer in the upper case.

Condition Notes

The leaf carvings applied around the side pediment flowers and flanking the upper shell are replacements. One of the three finial urns is a replacement made of mahogany.


The donor acquired the high chest from David Stockwell, Inc., Greenville, Delaware. See "Comments" for further provenance.


This high chest is among the best examples of cabinetwork from a group of high chests and dressing tables variously identified as of Annapolis, Maryland, or from the Philadelphia shop of John Elliott (1713-1791). However, the identity of its maker remains uncertain.  Several structural and decorative features may one day help determine its maker.

Ownership by Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Mifflin (1744-1800) derives from an oral tradition recorded later in the brass plaque.  Mifflin died a widower with no children and deeply in debt.  Shortly after his death, his belongings were sold at a publicized auction to satisfy his debts.  That occasion likely earmarked the high chest for its subsequent owners, forming the basis of its provenance.   


Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 116-118.