A magnificent bombé chest recorded in a memorandum on the family’s furnishing is on view at Historic New England’s Quincy House in Quincy, Massachusetts.
The bombé chest has been identified by noted furniture scholar Kemble Widmer as one of two made by cabinetmaker, Thomas Needham Sr. (1734-1804), a cabinetmaker who worked in Boston and the North Shore of Massachusetts, the only locations where the bombé form was made.
As one of the most difficult and expensive forms, a bombé chest’s construction was a cabinetmaker’s tour de force and no more than forty eighteenth-century bombé chests are known today. When they were made, chests like this one with its complicated construction and expensive mahogany would have been a mark of status.
The bombé is thought to have belonged to Josiah Quincy, Sr., or to have been a gift to his son, the Patriot, Josaih Quincy, Jr. and Abigail Phillips at the time of their marriage in 1769. It remained in Quincy house for much of the nineteenth century. According to a letter taped to the inside drawer, sometime in the 1880s one of the Quincy descendents gave the chest to a friend. The friend’s daughter sold the chest in the 1940s. It came up for sale again recently, and through the generosity of a generous supporter of Historic New England, it is returning to its long-time home in Quincy.
Visit the Quincy House in Quincy, Massachusetts, to view the bombé chest and other fine examples of eighteenth-century furniture owned by the family. The house is open on the first Saturdays of the month from June 1 to October 15. For details, visit HistoricNewEngland.org.