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Chest on Frame

Macy, Henry
Place Made:
Guilford County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
walnut –poplar
HOA: 78 1/2″;
WOA: 42 3/4″;
DOA: 22 1/2″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Chest on frame: Graduated drawers, three over two over four stacked; original brass drawer pulls; top center drawer without pull; pitched pediment has coved cornice with dentil molding, applied four-petal flower in center and two quarter fans in the tympanum, the latter with brass nail attached; frame with scalloped apron, cabriole legs with padded slipper feet; one surviving hidden drawer in cornice (two missing)

FORM: Exept for the elaborate pitch pediment, this chest on frame form is virtually identical to examples made by Quaker cabinetmakers in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Two very closely related examples were signed by Pennsylvanian Virgil Eachus and dated 1785 and 1789.

MAKER and GROUP: Formerly attributed to Jesse Needham, this chest on frame is part of a large group of Piedmont North Carolina furniture reattributed to the Quaker cabinetmaker Henry Macy (1773–1846). He was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and migrated with his family to southern Guilford County in 1785, settling on Polecat Creek near Center Monthly Meeting. Macy appears to have trained under his cousin Hepzibeth Macy’s husband, Thomas Pierce, a Quaker cabinetmaker who was originally from Chester County, Pennsylvania. Pierce left Guilford County around 1790, as Henry Macy was becoming an adult and ready to open his own shop, but he appears to have greatly impacted the regional style with Chester County influence. An account book kept by Henry Macy beginning in 1798 survives in the Guilford County Historical Museum, listing large numbers of clients in southern Guilford and northern Randolph counties and multiple furniture forms, including several chests on frame, which in the account book were separately referred to as “Case of Drawers.”

The earliest known owners of this high chest were Dr. Eugene Price Gray (1881-1936) and Janet Crump Gray (1886-1961), of Winston Salem, North Carolina. They owned the piece in 1943. It was gifted to their daughter Caroline Gray, who married Dr. Roy Truslow. The piece was gifted directly to the MESDA Collection from Dr. Truslow and his children in 2009. The original owners are unknown.
Credit Line:
Gift of Dr. Roy E. Truslow in memory of his wife Caroline Gray Truslow and her parents Dr. and Mrs Eugene Price Gray