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Chest of drawers

Spoon, Eli
Place Made:
Randolph County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
walnut –yellow pine –glass –brass
HOA: 44″
WOA: 37 1/2″
DOA: 19 1/2″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Chest of drawers: Top has a two-piece stacked molding; two lipped molded drawers over three graduated drawers; sides are very unusual with four mortise and tenon panels, each with a 1/2 lunette (a quarter circle) applied to each corner for a total of sixteen decorative lunettes per side; well-turned feet; top right drawer has a slight amount of lip damage on the upper left end; one of the original 32 lunettes is missing; finish is original; pulls are all believed to be original, including the two Sandwich glass knobs on the two short drawers, three long drawers have two single screw turned wooden knobs, all knobs were on the piece when originally purchased; long drawers are keyed and have inlaid keyhole escutcheons.

CONSTRUCTION: The construction of the side panels, each divided into four small panels and each with lunetted corners, is rare and not known on any other Piedmont North Carolina pieces.

MARKS AND MAKERS: The first full length drawer was signed in pencil on the interior bottom “Joseph Whitney 1833,” an apprentice of Eli Spoon, and “Eli Spoon” in large cursive script. The bottom drawer is signed with red stain “15.00 Eli Spoon.”

WOODS: Constructed of figured walnut with curly maple posts, and Southern yellow pine secondary wood

The following explanation of the history of the piece comes from the donor, Tommy Cranford. “This Sheraton style chest of drawers made by Eli Spoon was first discovered at an estate auction in the fall of 1982. The auction was held at an Amick family home place located about two miles west of Melancton, between Liberty and Grays’ Chapel, on Old Hwy 49. The Amicks were early settlers in that area and are of German descent. Unfortunately, no other family information was available about the family and possible ties to the Spoon family. The Spoon families also were of German descent, there may be a family connection in previous generations. The old home place has been completely redone but is still standing today. It was very obvious from the location that the chest was sitting in in this 19th century home, that it had spent a significant portion of its life in that one place. Hanging above the chest on a nail was a PA looking glass with a painted tablet above the glass lower portion, with split turnings on the sides of the frame and bosses in the corners. This was typical of the 1830’s also. . . . The winning bidder cleaned the chest a small amount and kept it in his personal collection until it was sold at Leland Little’s auction house in September, 2003. That is when I purchased the chest, although I had been in the bidding for the chest at the Amick sale. Eli Spoon is credited with constructing several bracket feet chests with holes drilled in the face of the feet. To my knowledge, however, this is his only known signed piece of the Sheraton-style furniture. To have a chest with a signature is extremely rare and having name, date, and apprentice name all in this one piece is unheard of. I believe that Eli Spoon was born in 1798 and lived in the northeast Randolph County area until his death in the 1880’s. He would be at the pinnacle of his cabinetmaker success at age 30. At this time, he was changing over from the previous Chippendale style bracket foot cabinetmaking to the newer more fanciful Sheraton style. The backcountry area of North Carolina was 30 or more years behind the more urban areas in this style change. I know of no other pieces of Piedmont NC furniture that have this much identifying information.”

Credit Line:
Gift of Tommy and Ann Cranford