Robert Crosman was born in Taunton, Mass. in 1707. He is believed to be the person responsible for group of around 30 pieces of furniture – chests of differing designs – thought to be the largest body of paint-decorated furniture produced by a single early craftsman. He was the brother to six sisters, which could have been the impetus for these chests; it is said that he made a chest for each of his sisters on her wedding day. Many of the pieces, today, reside in museum collections throughout the country. The grouping has become known as Taunton chests.
While the decoration on the fronts vary as much as the designs of the chest (Fig. 1), there are similarities spread across the collection; it helps to unify the chests. A researcher noted, “… the complexity of the decoration varies considerably from one piece to the next, ranging from sketchily executed single trees to far more elaborate overlapping compositions of multiple birds, vines, berries, and blossoms¹.” But one of the important traits of this body of work that groups these pieces together is found in the construction.
It was early in the 1700s. English construction techniques had drawer bottoms oriented with the grain running front to back. Crosman, indeed, used the same orientation to build his drawers. OK. So what? A lot of woodworkers during that time used the same method to build drawers. In building his drawers, Crosman used a peculiar method to secure the bottoms to the drawer sides, something further discussed as we build the drawers. And while it is a historical fact, it is not one that we’ll repeat in our building process.
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