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Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany –cypress
HOA: 73 1/4″; WOA: 44 1/2″; DOA; 24 1/2″
Accession Number:
This press may have been made for the home of Arthur (1734-1774) and Mary (Hutson) Peronneau (1744-1799) who married in 1762. Though their home at the corner of Meeting and Atlantic Streets no longer survives, it was described by Harriot Horry Ravenel (1832-1912) as having been “a solid brick structure with a beautiful mahogany-paneled drawing room.” (Harriot Horry Ravenel, “Charleston, the Place and the People,” (1912), 319).

The press was updated—probably during the nineteenth-century–in a colonial revival style. Ball-and-claw feet were added to the base and the cabinet doors were reworked with nineteenth-century-style glazing. At the same time the shelves were fixed into place and the old rabbets for the adjustable shelves were filled. Despite this extensive work, the 18th century brasses and hardware were retained.

The piece was restored back to its likely 18th century appearance prior to its donation to MESDA. New panels were created for the cabinet doors and new feet and foot blocking was added based on surviving examples.

Because of the extent of work done during the 18th century it is possible that the press was originally built to house either books or clothes.

CONSTRUCTION: Cornice: Sprung molding run in one piece and glued to a triangular backer, 3/4 of the cornice rising above the top of the case and backed by blocks glued to the top of the case; a dustboards flush with the top of the cornice is nailed to the cornice blocks. Doors: Though published in “Charleston Furniture” as replaced, we now believe that they are merely reworked, first with glazing and now with replaced panels. Case: Corner joinery: Both cases dovetailed at top and bottom. Back joinery: Back of upper case composed of butt-jointed boards fitted to rabbets which extend into cornice blocking, nailed at sides of case and across primary top of case; lower back not recorded. Drawer rails: Half-dovetailed to case, the joints covered by facing strips at case edges, rails glued to dustboards. Drawer supports: Drawer rails and dustboards. Dustboards: Full-bottom, 3/4 depth. Base system: Replaced. Foot block system: Replaced. Drawers: Frame joinery: Dovetailed; sides pass back. Bottom-to-frame joinery: Both small and large drawer bottoms fitted to dadoes in front and sides, nailed at back. Bottom section/joinery: The large drawers have two-part bottoms dadoed to central muntins which are dovetailed to the drawer fronts and glued to open mortises at the back, the bottom halves composed of two butt-jointed beveled boards parallel to front; the small drawers have the same section, but no muntins. Runner system: Drawer sides and center muntin on the large drawers, drawer sides only on the small drawers. Front edge finish: Thumb-molded unlipped edges held proud of case front by drawer stops nailed to drawer rails.

DESCRIPTION: A chest of drawers with a cabinet on top. The chest has with two drawers over one over one. The cabinet has three shelves. Each drawer has a pair of “open mouth” brasses and escutcheons. Additional handles on the side of the chest and cabinet originally provided additional lifting points.

RELATED OBJECTS: A sideboard table (MESDA acc. 5923) shares the same provenance as this press.

REFERENCES: Bradford L. Rauschenberg and John Bivins, Jr., “The Furniture of Charleston” CC-9.

Probably made around the time of the marriage of Arthur Peronneau (1734-1774) and Mary Hutson (1744-1799) in 1762. Their marriage was reported in the South Carolina Gazette on June 19, 1762, ” Mr. Arthur Peronneau, merchant, was married to Miss Mary Hutson, a daughter of the late Rev. Mr. William Hutson.” It descended to their son William Peronneau (1768-1848) and his wife, Mary Sarah (Lightwood) Peronneau (1774-1847), who married in 1791. The table passed to their son, Edward Charles Peronneau (1806-1878) and his wife, Anna Smith (Coffin) Peronneau (1804-1868). It then went to their daughter Eliza Peronneau (1835-1923) who married William Raven Mathewes (1829-1905) and to their daughter Clelia Peronneau (Mathewes) McGowan (1865-1956), a noted educational and civic leader in early twentieth-century Charleston.
Credit Line:
Gift in memory of William M. and Kathryn K. Matthew, Charleston, South Carolina