Sideboard Maker: Unknown


American Decorative Arts

The end of the eighteenth century saw the introduction of the sideboard, a complex furniture form for the storage and display of silver, dishes, glasses, tablecloths, bottles, chamber pots, and other accoutrements necessary for dining. This sideboard, which was owned by the wealthy planter and noted host Colonel William Alston, was probably used in his city residence in Charleston, South Carolina. It is the only American sideboard known to have survived with its gallery intact. The Yale University Art Gallery is acknowledged to have the best collection of Southern furniture north of the Mason-Dixon Line.


Mahogany, mahogany veneer with light- and dark-wood inlays, red gum or black gum, yellow-poplar, southern yellow pine, southern red cedar, and eastern white pine


57 1/4 × 89 3/4 × 30 5/8 in. (145.4 × 228 × 77.8 cm)
other (To top of case): 40 1/2 in. (102.9 cm)
other (Case): 88 13/16 × 14 1/8 in. (225.6 × 35.9 cm)

Credit Line

Mabel Brady Garvan Collection

Accession Number



18th–19th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



This library sideboard and a library bookcase (1930.2023) were purchased in 1928 by Francis P. Garvan, New York, from Elisabeth D. Allston, Marion, SC, who provided the following family history: "These two pieces.were owned by Wm. Alston.and probably bought by him for his plantation house on Clifton, his beautiful estate on the Waccamaw river, So. Carolina.The furniture has remained in the possessions of his descendants [including herself] up to the present time." Gift in 1930 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • American Art: Selections from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2023), 100–1, no. 42, ill
  • Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 209, no. 112, ill
  • Gerald W. R. Ward, American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1988), 365, 413, 428–31, 445, no. 222, ill
  • Elizabeth Pratt Fox, Southern Furniture: Baltimore to Charleston, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1978–1979),
  • E.T. Joy, "English Furniture in America in the Georgian Period and Some Hitherto Unpublished Trading Figures," Connoisseur 146 (September 1960), 72, fig. 9
  • E. Milby Burton, Charleston Furniture, 1700–1825 (Charleston, S.C.: Charleston Museum, 1955), 56, fig. 65
  • Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury, 1st ed., 3 vols. (Framingham, Mass.: Old American Company Publishers, 1928–33), n.p., no. 750, vol. 1, ill
  • Jonathan Binzen, "Greatest Commission: Irion Company fills a house with 90 of the finest pieces of american period furniture," Fine Woodworking 198 (May/June 2008), 82, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

sideboards (furniture)


The bail handles on each pull are stamped "H J", probably for the firm of Thomas Hands and William Jenkins, brass foudners of Birmingham, England. "R.80 7667 1" is painted in red on the outside of the rear edge of the top. Some of the drawer sides have been marked (inaccurately) in modern times with the names of various woods.

Technical metadata and APIs


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