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Chest of Drawers

Place Made:
Mecklenburg County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
walnut –yellow pine
HOA: 50; WOA: 36 3/4; DOA: 21 1/4
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Chest of drawers: Five tiers of cock-beaded drawers, top tier divided into two drawers; inlay of light wood surrounds keyholes of bottom four drawers; light wood inlaid cross hatching and initials across front edge of top; two rectangular outlines of stringing with fan corners on inner rectangle appear on drawers; straight stringing on apron; supported by scalloped apron with splayed “French” feet on front, straight square feet on back; glue blocks only support front feet; fruit and basket pulls.

STYLE: In the shaping of the feet and the use of the owner’s initials, this chest follows a southern Catawba Valley cabinetmaking tradition, although the crossed stringing on the top and the fan-shaped lunettes of the drawer faces do not follow the norm of the region.

The initials “PG” inlaid in the top edge refer to Polly Glass (ca. 1795-1854) of the Providence area (just south of the then small town of Charlotte) of southeastern Mecklenburg County. The chest descended in the Weeks family through Polly (Glass) Rea’s daughter, Margaret Lemerica (Rea) Weeks. Mary “Polly” Glass was part of the large Scotch-Irish population that settled in Mecklenburg County. This chest of drawers was likely made for Polly when she married Jonathan Rea in 1816. Jonathan died in 1819, leaving Polly and one surviving daughter. His probate inventory lists “one Burough” valued at $18.30. Polly never remarried and lived independently for much of her life. She successfully managed a small farm, and by 1850 she owned 5 slaves and employed a hired laborer. Three other chests with similar French feet and inlay survive, but the maker of this group, including Polly’s chest, is unknown.
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Whaley Batson