image of object
From: Brock Jobe and Myrna Kaye, New England Furniture: The Colonial Era (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1984): 255
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Desk and bookcase


Object number

RIF574

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

212.725 x 113.983 x 57.785cm (83 3/4 x 44 7/8 x 22 3/4in.)

Date

1790– 1800

Current location

Historic New England (www.historicnewengland.com), formerly Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities

Geography

Made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Mahogany (primary); birch (top and bottom of lower case); white pine (all other secondary wood)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Unknown

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Alvin Sortwell, Wiscaseet, Maine, about 1899; by descent to his daughter, Frances A. Sortwell, Wiscasset, Maine; given to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England), Boston, 1958

Associated names

Alvin Sortwell
Frances A. Sortwell

Construction

Both cases are dovetailed. Their backboards are attached with cut nails. The lid supports are of mahogany faced with a darker mahogany. A base rail behind the front base molding is tenoned to the case sides and backed with glue blocks. All drawer supports including those for the bottom drawer are nailed to the case sides. The construction of the base molding and feet follows standard Rhode Island practice. A thin strip with a beaded front edge is nailed to the underside of the front base molding between the feet. The beaded strips along the sides are missing. The drawer dovetailing is fine but not on par with the best Newport furniture. The bottom of each drawer is set into grooves in the front and sides and nailed to the back with cut nails. The thumbnail-molded edge on the drawer fronts is lipped at the top and sides. A cornice rail of pine faced with mahogany is set into grooves in the case sides at the lower edge of the cornice. The cornice is a complex four-part molding glued and nailed to the case. The desk and bookcase is in excellent condition with only minor damage and restoration: e.g., patches on two drawer fronts and one foot and a crack in the lid. Source: Brock Jobe and Myrna Kay, New England Furniture: The Colonial Era (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984), 255–256.

Bibliography

Brock Jobe and Myrna Kaye, New England Furniture: The Colonial Era (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984), 254–257, no. 53, ill.