Distinguished by its pitched pediment and Philadelphia-inspired design, the tall chest offered here was long thought to be the work of Jesse Needham, a cabinetmaker born in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, in 1770 or 1774. Needham's family moved in Caraway Creek in Randolph County in 1792 or 1793. There, Needham established a cabinetmaking shop and, by 1830, had moved further north, near Guilford County. Not listed in Federal census records for North Carolina after 1840, he may have moved to Ohio (John Bivins, Jr., "A piedmont North Carolina cabinetmaker: The development of a regional style," Antiques (May 1973), pp. 968-969.
Several tall chests and a desk-and-bookcase attributed to Needham feature similar pediments, drawer configuration and ogee bracket feet (Bivins, figs. 2, 4, 6, 8). However, Needham's pediments differ from the chest offered here most notably in their inset corners and lack of wavy molding applied under the cornice. Purchased in Randolph County, this tall chest illustrates the work of another cabinetmaker familiar with Needham's furniture. According to John Bivins, about eight other examples by the same craftsman survive, including two corner cupboards, a desk-and-bookcase and several chests. Many of these have histories of ownership in nearby Alamance County indicating that the cabinetmaker of this chest lived in the area.