The Darien Historical Society just acquired a Queen Anne highboy that had graced Raymond family homes in Middlesex Parish and Darien for over 250 years at an auction in New Hampshire.
Funding for this purchase primarily came from a very generous donation from the Goodnow Family. Additional funding for the purchase will be provided from the sale of certain non-core assets from the Society’s collection.
"Acquisition opportunities rarely come on the market where a local piece of history has such unquestionable documentation as the Raymond highboy," said Jack Gault, executive director of the historical society.
"Our mission is to tell and preserve the story of Darien, so we are very excited to bring this home for future generations to enjoy."
The Raymond highboy was made in the mid-1700s of cherry and white pine by an unknown country cabinetmaker who worked in Middlesex Parish or one of our nearby coastal towns.
Its 13 drawers and stylized scallop shell carvings imitate the refinement of similar pieces made in Boston or Newport, but its asymmetrical and quirky touches are typical of the country workshop.
The highboy consists of two parts. The upper rectangular section is topped with a projecting molded cornice above a central shell-carved square drawer that is flanked by stacks of two short drawers over four long graduated drawers that increase in height from 4 ½, to 5 ½, to 6 ½ and 7 ½ inches.
The lower section consists of one long drawer over three aligned short drawers with a central shell-carved drawer to match the upper section, all above a deeply scalloped apron and raised on cabriole legs that end in pad feet.
The original finish appears to be intact, though many years ago it was topped up with a fresh coat of shellac, which has long since deteriorated.
The brasses on the lower chest are period and probably original. Those on the upper chest are later, sturdier replacements that probably were necessitated by the wearing out of the more delicate originals.
Since the 1600s, the Raymond family has clustered around the Five Mile River area, and in 1736, three Raymond householders, John, Abraham and Comfort Raymond, were among the signers of the “Five Mile river peticion” that led to the formation of Middlesex Parish, the predecessor of the town of Darien.
For the past century, this Raymond family highboy has been a prized possession in the Five Mile River Road home of Karl and Elizabeth Raymond and of their daughter, Hope Raymond (1922-2012).