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Photo: Courtesy Israel Sack, Inc., Archive, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF2071

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

118.11 x 98.425 x 58.42cm (46 1/2 x 38 3/4 x 23in.)

Date

1760–1790

Current location

The Stanley Weiss Collection

Geography

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

Medium

Walnut (primary); white pine (bottom board, backboards, drawer linings, stops for loper and exterior drawers, glue blocks reinforcing joint of bottom rail and bottom board)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

"A," "B," "C," and "D," in chalk, on exterior backs of exterior drawers. Chalk inscriptions on a few interior drawers including "C" on a drawer behind prospect door, and "2," "3," and "5" on some others

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Private collection. Israel Sack, Inc., New York, 1961. Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, by 2006; consigned to Sotheby's, New York, October 7, 2006, lot 228. Stanley Weiss Collection, Providence, Rhode Island, 2010

Associated names

The Rhode Island Historical Society
Sotheby's

Construction

The top is dovetailed to the two-piece case sides with a half key at the front, a half tail at the rear and seven full dovetails in between them. The battens on the slant-lid have open tenons at the ends; three hinges secure the slant-lid to the writing surface. Drawer runners are replaced; the drawer dividers are from the solid, have beaded edges, and are fastened to the case sides with half-blind dovetails, as is the top rail. There are big triangular stops for the lopers. The muntins next to the lopers have beaded edges and are tenoned to the rails above and below. Each drawer is stopped by blocks fastened with 2 nails to the case sides. The joint of the bottom rail and the case bottom is reinforced with three blocks with small chamfered edges. The two-piece bottom board is dovetailed to the case sides. The front base molding is cut in the bottom rail. The blocks behind the ogee brackets are mitered at the corners; the vertical blocks that rested on them are missing. All the blocks on the four feet have nicely chamfered edges. The back feet brackets have angled inner faces and are fitted into slight slots in the side foot; this joint is reinforced at the back with a vertical block. The back edges of the rear ogee bracket feet are cut away in an ogee shape. The four-part backboards are lapped together and are fastened with t-headed nails to rabets in the case top and sides and to the back edge of the bottom board; four nails secure the prospect section from the back. Half-blind dovetails fasten the drawer fronts to the drawer sides with half keys at the top and the bottom; the kerf marks are very short. The grain of the wood on the one-piece drawer bottoms on the exterior drawers runs from side to side; the top edges of the drawer sides are slightly chamfered and flush with the drawer fronts; the bottoms fit in grooves in the drawer fronts and sides and are fastened to the underside of the drawer backs with three t-headed nails and wooden pegs. The drawer fronts retain vertical sawmill marks on the interior; the interiors are shaped to follow the blocking. Examined by P. E. Kane, October 1, 2006

Bibliography

American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, 10 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Highland House Publishers, 1957–1989), vol. 1, p. 168, no. 445, ill.
Joseph K. Ott, The John Brown House Loan Exhibition of Rhode Island Furniture, exh. cat. (Providence: The Rhode Island Historical Society, 1965), 114–115, no. 71.
Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana Including Property from the Rhode Island Historical Society, sale cat. (October 7, 2006), 162–63, lot 228, ill.
"The RI Historical Society's Walnut Newport Block Front Desk," http://www.tildenthurber.com/stanleyweiss/pages/items7/sw00752r.html (accessed August 27, 2010).