Michael Allison, (1773-1855)
American: New York
Mahogany, satinwood, light and dark stringing, tulip poplar, white pine, brass hardware
45 x 45 1/2 x 223/4
Purchased, 1976 (F 76.28)[/one_half]
At the time of the building of Boscobel, storage for clothing was quite different than it is today. Closets as we know them, had not come into favor. A chest of drawers or bureau was used primarily to store clothing. In New York from 1800 to 1810, a distinctive model of bureau evolved with a deep top drawer, called by the cabinetmakers a “tablet drawer.” Boscobel’s chest of four drawers was made by the New York cabinetmaker Michael Allison (1773-1855). The chest, dated between 1800 and 1808, has a deep top “tablet” drawer with three shallower drawers below, graduated in size from shallow at the top to deep at the bottom. The top drawer is veneered with a central oval panel of figured mahogany outlined with light colored wood stringing. The decorative top drawer becomes the focal point of the bureau as inlaid satinwood diamond panels flank its center oval. This “tablet” drawer is characteristic of Allison’s work. The three veneered drawers below are also decoratively outlined with light wood stringing. The skirt has a central concave element flanked by deep ogees that flow into French feet. Each drawer front is veneered with white pine; while the drawer sides and bottoms are tulip poplar. This chest has its original brasses with eagle and garland design and are marked “HJ”. A label inside the bottom of the top drawer reads:
“M. AL[LISON]/CABINET[MAKER]/NO. 42, VESEY STREET/(NEAR THE BEARMARKET)/NEW-YORK/Who has a general assortment of warranted/ready made furniture o[n hand.]”
Between1800 and 1847, Allison’s cabinetmaking shop was known to be at different locations on Vesey Street in New York City. Allison worked at the address given in the label from 1800 to 1815, which helps to establish a date range for the chest.
The chest of drawers may be seen in the dressing room at Boscobel House.