Thistlethwaite Americana | Portsmouth Thirteen Panel Chest
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Thistlethwaite Americana_16_Main
Portsmouth chest 338_Thistle_20-07-20

Portsmouth Thirteen Panel Chest

Inscribed Nathaniel Souther
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Circa 1810
Mahogany with flame birch panels, whalebone escutcheons, and white pine secondary
41″ W; 37″ H; 21″ D


Portsmouth New Hampshire produced some of the finest Federal furniture in America. The thirteen panel chest is one of its finest examples with the use of flame birch, mahogany and whale-bone, all framed with incredibly fine strain inlay veneer. These chests always have a recognized and commanding presence.


This form, with its twelve decorative flame birch panels, fine proportions and tailored appearance is considered one of the most desirable of all Portsmouth federal furniture. In addition, the chest is inscribed Nathaniel Souther, a baker with a house and shop on the corner of Cottar’s Lane (now Franklin Street) and Pleasant Street in Portsmouth. He died in 1824.


While many of these chests have been confused with other examples of twelve panel chest made in Saco, Maine, the Portsmouth examples tend to have a condition flaw The top is thinly veneered over a running dovetail that flows down the center of the top. The expansion of this joint often causes cracks in the veneer.


Provenance: Roland B. Hammond


WHY WE LOVE IT: It’s not often you can trace a chest back to its original home.  This piece was made for the home of the baker Nathaniel Souther and later stayed in Portsmouth.  To own a piece this good, he must’ve been one hell of a baker!