Pair of Drawers
Chest upon Chest
Thomas Gross, Jr., American, 1775 - 1839
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The expressive signature on the bottom of the drawer proudly declares this monumental chest of drawers to be the work of "Thomas Gross, maker." Gross was a free cabinetmaker and undertaker of African descent who owned a shop in Philadelphia in the early 1800s. He might have learned his trade from his father, Thomas Gross, Sr., a carpenter.
Although Philadelphia directories show other African American carpenters and cabinetmakers working during this period, relatively few artisans of any race or ethnicity signed their work.
Grass's signature makes this the only known piece of furniture that is a documented product of Philadelphia's robust community of free African American artisans.