Bookcase cabinet

about 1880–90
Manufactured by J. J. McNutt Novelty Wood Works (active 1860–1890), John J. McNutt (American (born in Nova Scotia), 1822–1894)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


224.8 x 120.7 x 62.2 cm (88 1/2 x 47 1/2 x 24 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oak, yellow poplar, burl walnut veneer

On View

Jan and Warren Adelson Gallery (Gallery 221)




Case furniture and boxes

Large oak cabinet in two sections: lower section has two drawers and hinged doors with panels ornamented with carved “Japanese” fish and with shelves behind, and console pilasters, and carved dog’s heads; upper case features glazed doors with Gothic tracery which open to reveal shelves behind; dentil cornice molding; upper case flanked by twist-turned columns surmounted by carved portrait busts (possibly of the owner, Henry Wenz).

This imposing cabinet echoes the grandeur of American Renaissance interiors. A handsome cornice with egg-and-dart molding tops a case ornamented with boldly carved heads, twisted columns, lion masks, and dolphins—all drawn from Renaissance and Baroque sources. McNutt was a carpenter, house builder, and entrepreneur, who, according to Boston Today in 1892, “played an important part in the construction of superior dwellings, business houses, churches, theatres, etc., in Boston and vicinity … for nearly fifty years.”


Paper label: "NOVELTY WOOD WORKS / J.J. McNUTT / Builder and Manufacturer of / Mouldings, Counters, Bank and Store Fixtures /Malden & Wareham Sts. Boston"


Built for the office of Henry Wenz, a Viennese-trained chemist who came to Boston and established a chocolate business in the nineteenth century; purchased in 1987 from Paul Weiner, Weiner's Antiques, 22 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts.

Credit Line

Gift of The Seminarians