image of object
Photo: Courtesy The Preservation Society of Newport County, PSNC.1707
Click the image to enlarge

Dressing table


Object number

RIF981

Maker

Maker Benjamin Baker, 1734 or 1735–1822

Dimensions

79.058 x 88.9 x 50.8cm (31 1/8 x 35 x 20in.)

Date

1764

Current location

Preservation Society of Newport County

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); chestnut (all secondary wood)

Marks

"-enjamin Baker / he mad it," in chalk, on interior surface of skirt

Inscriptions

Illegible chalk, on interior and exterior back of one of small drawers; mathematical calculations, in chalk, on exterior bottom of long drawer; “Back,” in chalk, on interior back of case; “X,” “3,” and “4,” in chalk, on interior back of case

Style

Queen Anne

Provenance

Philip G. Birckhead; by descent to Mrs. Philip Birckhead; sold to Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island

Associated names

Philip G. Birckhead
Mrs. Philip G. Birckhead

Construction

The rectangular, single-board, oblong top is molded on its front and side edges, has incurvate front corners, and a square back edge which is nearly flush with the backboard. It is secured to its case by screws and rosehead nails in the underside of the top rail, by nails set into pockets at the inside face of the backboard, and by rectangular glueblocks behind the top rail and at the joints between the top and the case sides and case back. The single-board, scallop-skirted case sides meet the arched and scallop-skirted backboard in dovetail joints with finely cut pins of varying configuration, with large half-pins above and below. The joints between the case sides and front stiles are not visible. Within the case, the upper-drawer supports are half-lapped to the drawer divider and set into grooves in the backboard. The small-drawer supports at the case sides and within the case are half-lapped to the skirtboard, set into grooves in the backboard, and butt-jointed to longitudinal blocking between the legs? vertical glue blocks. Deep vertical small-drawer guides are half-lapped to the skirtboard, butted against the underside of the drawer divider, set into grooves in the backboard and enclose the small drawers by touching with their bottom inside corners the top outside corners of the supports within the case. There is a reinforcing wood patch on the back of the proper right side of the shell-carved portion of the skirtboard. The lipped, thumb-molded and kerf-marked long-drawer front meets its slightly shorter, slightly arch-topped drawer sides in dovetail joints, having finely cut pins reinforced with brads, with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The full-width long-drawer bottom, parallel to the front, has an old canvas tape repair, and is chamfered at its front, where it fits into a groove in the drawer front, and its sides, where its connection with its drawer sides is covered by full-depth glued-on runners. The drawer bottom is nailed with brads to the drawer back, the top of which is rounded at its outside edge. The small-drawer fronts meet their sides in dovetail joints with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below, and their flat, single-board, perpendicular bottoms are nailed with brads into the rabbets in the drawer fronts and the bottoms of the sides and backs above. The cabriole legs are of the ?detachable? sort, with angular knees, and rounded ankles and heels, held into the case by triangular and rectangular glueblocks. The knee brackets are held on with glue. The shod pad feet are distinctly circular. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, September 16, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Homer Eaton Keyes, "Two Branches of the Newport Townsends," Antiques 31, no. 6 (June 1937): 309, fig. 6.
Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., The Arts and Crafts of Newport, Rhode Island, 1640–1820 (Newport, R.I.: Preservation Society of Newport County, 1954), 89, no. 61, Detail, p. 209, Supplement 61, ill.
Dennis Andrew Carr, "The Account Book of Benjamin Baker," American Furniture (2004): 52–53, fig. 8–10.
Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 445, no. 58, fig. 1.