Thomas Townsend was a member of the famed Townsend-Goddard dynasty of Newport cabinetmakers and this is the only documented work by him. The raised panels above the top drawers, which echo the curves of the pediment, are characteristic of Newport manufacture. This chest-on-chest and another example from Philadelphia (1975.91) offer two elegant solutions to the challenge of integrating a scroll pediment with an architectural case.
Signature: A large paper label is pasted to the center of the bottom board of the uppermost drawer of the lower section. Written in brown ink, it reads "Made by / Thomas Towns[end] / [New]port / Rhode Island."
Inscription: There is an inscription, also in brown ink, on the chestnut top board of the lower section which reads: "Nicholas Easton 1772."
Presumably David Gardiner (1738-1774), Gardiner's Island; to John Lyon Gardiner, and thence in direct descent to Robert D.L. Gardiner, from whose estate it was sold in January 2005. The recently discovered "Nicholas Easton 1772" inscription offers exciting opportunities for further research. The date is absolutely appropriate for the manufacture of the piece. Nicholas Easton (1733-1811), descended from one of the founders of Newport, is said to have been a cabinetmaker, but as yet we know very little about him.