A small oak box made by a “legendary” Ipswich woodworker has sold for $36,600 at auction.
The box, used to hold a Bible or papers, was made in the 17th century by Thomas Dennis of Ipswich. Square Wooden Crates
Dennis (1638–1706) came from Devonshire, England, “where he learned from a tradition of flourished carving,” according to the Historic Ipswich website.
An accomplished craftsman, much of his work still exists and is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
Locally, some of Dennis’ furniture can be seen in the Ipswich Museum and the Whipple House. The Thomas Dennis house still stands at 7 County Street.
The box that sold at auction in Connecticut in late October was around five inches high and 13.5 inches long. It was part of the Vincent family collection in Fairfield, Conn.
“The size of this is spectacular. It’s decorated all over the place,” dealer and buyer Hollis Brodrick told Antiques & The Arts Weekly.
Although Dennis was renowned for his work, he wasn’t the only top-level woodworking artisan in Ipswich at the time. He was a contemporary of William Searle, who migrated from the same area of England as Dennis.
Extra Large Wooden Crates Searle died young, however, leaving a wife and three kids when he was just 33. Dennis served as executor of the estate and later married Searle’s widow, Grace.