Collections › MESDA Collection › Chest of Drawers

Chest of Drawers

Jones, William
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany –poplar –ash –white pine
HOA: 34 7/8; WOA: 42 1/2; DOA: 22 3/4
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Chest of drawers having serpentine front with canted corners; four drawers with stringing; straight bracket feet, the corners of which are set with cross-banded mahogany stringing, and stringing on the front face of the feet; rounded glue blocks; molded top; dual disk escutcheon with bail and rosette pulls.

STYLE: The serpentine shape of this chest, with canted corners, is found with some frequency in Charleston between 1785 and 1805. Two other examples of this form are known, both also of Charleston, and both with the rare feature of equal drawer heights (rather than the customary graduated heights). The stringing on the drawers is characteristic of Charleston work.

INSCRIPTION: Fragment of a label attributed to William Jones.

MAKER: The maker of this chest of drawers is William Jones (d. 1792), whose work appears to be part of Charleston’s German School. Jones is an enigma, although he probably worked in the shop of German Jacob Sass for a period. The furniture labeled or attributed to Jones is visually similar to the Post-Revolution German School, but his shop can be documented as operating for only five years from 1787 until his death in 1792. That said, where William Jones was born, exactly whom he apprenticed under, and how he fits into Charleston’s German community are worthy questions that merit answers. Although no documentary evidence exists that suggests Jones interacted with the German cabinetmakers while he was alive, after Jones’s death, Jacob Sass, the primary maker of Charleston’s Post-Revolution German school, was one of the appraisers of his estate.

DATE: Because the label indicates an address thought to be on Meeting Street, this piece probably predates the maker’s 1789 move to Broad.

WOODS: Primary wood is mahogany; drawer liners are poplar, foot glue blocks are ash with mahogany glue block flankers; white pine drawer dividers and case bottom.

The piece descended in the de Saussure family of Charleston, South Carolina.
Credit Line:
Lent by Mary L. McQueen and Henry deS. Copeland