Signed: Cornelius Allen
New Bedford, Massachusetts
For a long time this tall chest and a similar chest on chest in the Ned Johnson collection were attributed to the Newport, Rhode Island cabinetmaker Thomas Goddard. On closer inspection of this piece the signature “Cornelius Allen, Barnstable” was discovered leading to a closer inspection of the Johnson piece where a similar signature was found and additionally the inscription “New Bedford / Barnstable / Longplain”. As Jobe relates in his recent book “Harbor and Home, Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts” Cornelius Allen worked along side his brother Ebenezer Jr. in the latter’s cabinet making shop in the Long Plain section of New Bedford. He also states “that their work so closely approximates that of Newport is not a coincidence. They were the nephews of cabinetmaker John Goddard and Ebenezer Jr. almost certainly apprenticed there.”
Our chest on chest was a curiosity for many years since it is maple and not a wood normally associated with Newport cabinetmaking. There are few examples of maple chests of this quality and desirable small size and as Jobe says it shows the sophistication of the Allen cabinet shop before the Revolution. The solving of the mystery of the origin of this chest has opened the door to identifying other examples of the Allen’s work previously thought to be Newport as well.
Measurements: Height – 85”, Width – 39”, Depth – 19”