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Photo: Courtesy The Chipstone Foundation, Fox Point, Wis., 1962.17. Photo by Gavin Ashworth
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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF605

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

106.045 x 96.52 x 52.07 cm (41 3/4 x 38 x 20 1/2 in.); Writing height: 76.835 cm (30 1/4 in.)

Date

1760–1790

Current location

The Chipstone Foundation

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); yellow poplar (exterior drawer linings, backing for drawer dividers, board under desk interior, vertical brace at case back, backboards, rear foot brackets, and glue blocks on front feet); chestnut (bottom board, blocks at case front, and casing for lopers); cedar (interior drawer linings); mahogany (a few interior drawer bottoms [replaced?])

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Desk interior: “1,” on interior sides, back, and front of proper-right upper drawer; “2,” in graphite, on interior sides and back [and interior front?] of proper-right middle drawer; “3,” in graphite, on interior sides and back [and interior front?] of proper-right lower drawer; “4,” in graphite, on interior sides and back of drawer to proper-right of prospect; “5,” in graphite, on interior sides and back of upper prospect drawer; “7,” in graphite, on interior bottom of upper prospect drawer; “6,” in graphite, on interior sides, bottom, and back of middle prospect drawer; “6[?],” in graphite, on interior front of middle prospect drawer; “7,” in graphite, on interior sides and back of lower prospect drawer; “5,” in graphite, on interior bottom of lower prospect drawer; “5[?], in graphite, on interior front of lower prospect drawer; “8,” in graphite, on interior bottom, back, proper-left side of drawer to proper-left of prospect; “8[?],” in graphite, on interior front of drawer to proper-left of prospect; “9,” in graphite, on interior sides and back of proper-left upper drawer; “2” written over with “9,” in graphite, on interior front of proper-left upper drawer; “10,” in graphite, on interior sides, bottom, and back of proper-left middle drawer; “2,” in graphite, on interior front of proper-left middle drawer; “11,” in graphite, on interior sides and back of proper-left lower drawer; “4,” in graphite, on interior front of proper-left lower drawer; “5” or “9,” in graphite, on interior bottom of proper-left lower drawer; dots numbering from one to six, incised on tops and inside fronts of valance drawers [increasing in number from proper-right to proper-left]; “1,” interior sides and back of proper-right valance drawer; “2,” interior sides and back of middle proper-right valance drawer; “12,” in graphite, on interior bottom of middle proper-right valance drawer; “3,” in graphite, on interior sides and back of proper-right inside valance drawer; “13,” in graphite, on exterior proper-right side of proper-right inside valance drawer; “3,” through “6,” in graphite, on interior sides and back of proper-left valance drawers; mathematical figures [cut off], in chalk, on exterior bottom of proper-left outside valance drawer; “1,” through “3,” in graphite, on top surface of proper-right drawer dividers [top to bottom]; “9” through “11,” in graphite, on top surface of proper-left drawer dividers [bottom to top]; “7[?faint]” and “8,” in graphite, on top surface of drawer dividers flanking prospect; “I” and “II” [later], in graphite, on top surfaces of dividers beneath top and middle prospect drawers; loop, in graphite, on top surface of divider beneath lower prospect drawer. Desk exterior: “1” through “3,” in graphite, on tops of drawer dividers [top to bottom]; “I,” through “III [later],” in graphite, on underside of drawer dividers [top to bottom]; “1” through “4,” in graphite, on interior backs and sides [at front corners] of drawers [top to bottom]; “Bottom,” in graphite, on interior case bottom

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Helen Campbell Cheney (1880–1962), Manchester, Connecticut; consigned by her estate to Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, October 5– 6, 1962, lot 292; sold to John S. Walton, Inc., New York; sold to Polly Mariner Stone (1898–1995) and Stanley Stone (1896–1987), Fox Point, Wisconsin; bequeathed by Stanley Stone to The Chipstone Foundation, Fox Point, Wisconsin, 1987

Associated names

Helen Campbell Cheney
Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc.
John S. Walton, Inc.
Stanley Stone
Polly Mariner Stone

Construction

The single-board top is half-blind dovetailed to the single-board proper right case sides and the two-board proper left case side, with finely cut narrow-necked pins with half-pins in front and thick-necked half-pins with rabbets in the back. The case back consists of two half-lapped boards fixed with rosehead nails into rabbets in the case sides and directly to the single-board case bottom, which is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides with large, thick-necked pins. There is a single nail in the underside front center of the case bottom. The hinged thumb-molded lid consists of a large, horizontal board tenoned to flanking narrow vertical boards. The joints between them are visible when the lid is closed. The desk interior centers a concave-blocked shell-carved prospect door concealing three concave-blocked small drawers, flanked by beaded stiles and banks of beaded, quarter-spherically-blocked, valanced small drawers over open compartments separated by scalloped partitions over convex-blocked drawers, in turn flanked by banks of concave-blocked small drawers, the upper ones shell-carved. The faintly kerf-marked small-drawer fronts meet their nearly flush arched-top drawer sides in dovetail joints, having finely cut narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The drawer bottoms, perpendicular to the fronts, are glued into rabbets in the elements above. The tops of the drawer backs are slightly rounded at the far corners. The drawer-side tops of the valance drawers are nearly flat and flush with their drawer fronts; the backs of the valanced portion of their drawer fronts are scribe-lined. The interior sits upon a molded base behind a sliding well-cover with a crescent-shaped finger pull, within a thumb-molded frame. The well cover slides in a tongue-and-groove joint between it and the flanking transverse boards of the writing surface, which are supported, at the back, by a longitudinal brace set into grooves in the case sides. Into the middle of the bottom of this brace is set, in a groove, a vertical brace, nailed from the inside of the case into the backboards. The bottom of the vertical brace is visible through the bottom board. The loper supports are fixed to the case sides with rosehead nails. The drawer supports are replaced. There are four horizontal chamfered glue blocks within the case behind the bottom rail, which fits into grooves in the case sides. The top rail meets the case sides in a dovetail joint. The top of the vertical element which frames the small, thumb-molded loper fits into a groove in the top rail. The drawer dividers below, which have thin mahogany fronts, are dovetailed to the case sides. The thumb-molded large drawer-fronts meet their slightly shorter rounded-top drawer sides in dovetail joints, having finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The full-width single-board drawer bottoms are parallel to the fronts, where they are chamfered to fit into grooves. They are also chamfered at the sides, where their connection to the drawer sides is concealed by full-depth runners. The drawer bottoms are nailed to the backs with brads. The tops of the drawer backs are flat, with slightly rounded ends and a slightly chamfered back edge. The upper drawer has two interior carved wood locking bolts which are accessible through the sliding well in the writing surface above. The molding between the front feet, below the base molding, is replaced. The corresponding molding between the front and rear feet is nailed with brads. The feet consist of vertical blocks attached directly to the case bottom, flanked by shaped horizontal blocks, the whole faced with ogee brackets, attached with screws. The rear feet are similarly made, except for the back brackets, which are plain boards of serpentine profile set into rabbets in the side-facing brackets. There is a countersunk rosehead in the upper portion of each back bracket. The back-facing edge of the rear feet?s side-facing brackets has a slight ogee profile. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, May 22, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Stanley Stone, "Rhode Island Furniture at Chipstone, Part II," Antiques 91, no. 4 (April 1967): 510, ill.
Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, American Furniture at Chipstone (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), 60–61, no. 27, ill.
Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, "Living with Antiques: Chipstone near Milwaukee," Antiques 133, no. 5 (May 1988): 1154, pl. XVII.