John Townsend, the celebrated 18th Century New England cabinetmaker, was not much more than a lad when he crafted his “masterwork” high chest of drawers that sold at Sotheby’s Americana Sale in New York for $3.55m. The piece had been in the family that commissioned it for the past 255 years. Townsend liked it so much he signed and dated it two times, (1756) and added his maker’s mark five times.
It is called Townsend’s “masterwork” because it’s believed to be the piece of furniture he made to prove he had graduated from his apprenticeship when he was 23. Lt.Col Oliver Arnold of Rhode Island and his new bride originally commissioned the shell carved, mahogany chest that was consigned to Sotheby’s by Arnold’s great, great, great, great granddaughter.