The double-paneled blanket chest, at least as it appears here in a bold William and Mary style with ball-turned feet, is a furniture form unique to western Long Island. More specifically, the double-paneled chest with drawer seems to have originated in a single shop in Oyster Bay around 1710-1715. More than 60 versions of this distinctive form are known, and their stylistic variations indicate that they were produced by subsequent generations of craftsmen in at least eight to ten different shops (see Dean F. Failey, Long Island Is My Nation: The Decorative Arts and Craftsmen, 1640-1830 (Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, 1998 rev. ed.), pp.104-108). Stylistically, the earliest chests present a bold baroque stance with a vertical emphasis to the two recessed panels outlined with applied moldings. The single drawer below is set off by an applied mid-molding and the case rests upon boldly turned feet on boot-jack end stretchers, highly reminiscent of similar stretcher-base feet on Dutch-derived kasten. Original surviving brass hardware on these chests is comprised of the earliest version of bail-handled brasses with pattern-stamped backplates. In terms of construction, these first chests suggest a craftsman who was trained as a carpenter-joiner, and who probably provided the interior finishing work for homes and public buildings. Rather than joining the stiles and rails of the case with wooden pegs, the earliest chests are fastened with recessed rose-headed nails covered by wooden plugs. The applied moldings on some of the chests are similarly attached and the turned feet are nailed, rather than tenoned to the stretcher base.
Intriguingly, a second group of double-paneled chests, including this chest, have emerged as near-contemporary examples but almost certainly by another maker and bringing a new ethnic ingredient to the furniture stew. The example here appears almost identical to the first group but two aspects are decidedly different. The feet, which are clearly orginal, are slightly smaller and the ball is not compressed but round. More significantly, the stiles and rails are not only joined by wooden pegs rather than recessed nails, but the two pegs are aligned diagonally,a technique associated with Germanic joinery. Perpendicular pinning is found on other double-paneled chests as well as the majority of Kings County kasten. A small group of kasten, however, as well as this second group of double-paneled chests, all with histories of ownership in the Oyster Bay area, use the double diagonal pin technique. Oyster Bay, with its large Quaker population noted for attitudes of accomodation and tolerance, may have provided the perfect incubator for a merging of the diverse cultures of western Long Island and New York.