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Photo: Courtesy Adams Taylor
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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF5379

Maker

Maker Unknown
Maker: attributed to Thomas Goddard, 1765–1858

Dimensions

Height: 105.41 cm (41 1/2 in.); Width: 91.44 cm (36 in.)

Date

1780–1800

Current location

Newport Historical Society

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); yellow poplar (linings of interior desk drawers [except where noted], sides and backs of exterior drawers, and lower backboard); mahogany (backs of two interior desk drawers); pine (linings of proper-left valance drawer, backs and bottoms of exterior drawers, back of upper exterior drawer, bottom of desk interior, horizontal brace of case back, drawer guides, drawer supports, drawer divider backings, blocks around lopers [possibly pitch pine], upper backboard of case, and bottom board of case); chestnut (center backboard and vertical brace of case back)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Interior desk drawers: “B,” in chalk, on exterior back of proper-right middle drawer; “X [later?],” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-right lower drawer; “D,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-right single drawer; “E,” in graphite, on exterior back of upper center drawer; “F,” in graphite, on exterior back of middle center drawer; “H,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-left single drawer; “I,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-left upper drawer; “J,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-left middle drawer; “I,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-left lower drawer; “/,” in graphite, on interior front of proper-right valance drawer; “2,” in graphite, on interior back of second valance drawer from proper-right; “[illegible] By 65[?] $,” in ink, on exterior bottom of second valance drawer from proper-left. Exterior drawers: “A,” in graphite, on interior back of upper drawer; “C,” in graphite, on interior back of lower drawer; “Bottom,” on interior bottom board of case. "Mahogany Desk / Made by Thomas Goddard / 1765-1858 / Gift of Dr. Roderick Terry," engraved on brass plaque attached to backboard

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

By descent in the family of John Goddard to Roderick T. Terry, Jr. (1876–1951), Newport, Rhode Island; given to the Newport Historical Society, Rhode Island

Associated names

Roderick T. Terry Jr.

Construction

The single-board top is attached to the two-board sides by means of blind dovetails. The hinged lid is constructed in the "breadboard" manner, consisting of a large horizontal board flanked by and tenoned into narrow vertical boards, the whole with a thumb-molded edge. The lid is supported by carved birds? head lopers; the proper right bird head has a pointed beak and no eyes, the proper left bird head has a rounded beak and eyes of contrasting colored material. The interior consists of a prospect section (whose door is missing) with three concave-blocked small drawers, (the lower one missing) flanked by roundly concave-blocked valance drawers over open compartments with shaped uprights and convex-blocked small drawers, flanked in turn by banks of three concave-blocked small drawers, the upper shell-carved. The interior sits upon a molded base above a sliding well with a thumb-molded frame and a carved finger pull on its underside. The interior drawers have dovetail joints with finely cut, thin-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. Carving and construction details in the interior drawers are markedly inconsistent. The case back consists of three horizontal boards half-lapped together and attached in a rabbet in the top and sides with rosehead (and later) nails. The two-piece case bottom is dovetailed to the case sides, attached with a rosehead nail to the bottom rail, and flush with the base molding. The top rail and drawer dividers in the case are half-blind dovetailed to the case sides. Full-depth drawer supports are attached to the case sides with rosehead nails. The lopers have supports nailed to the case sides with rosehead nails. The upper long drawer has drawer guides (one missing) glued to its drawer supports. There is a medial vertical brace nailed with brads to the inside of the backboards. A horizontal brace at the top of the case interior is lapped over it and nailed to the case back. The bottom of the vertical brace is visible at the back of the underside of the case bottom. The bottom rail fits into a groove in the case sides. The three graduated long drawers have plain fronts and dovetail joints with large, finely cut pins of varying configurations, with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The tops of the drawer sides are chamfered and shy of the drawer fronts. The single-board drawer bottoms are parallel to the fronts, nailed up into the drawer sides and backs, and move on runners attached with brads. The inside of the drawer fronts exhibit toothing plane marks and a history of hardware changes. The sides and dividers of the top drawer as well as the inner loper stiles contain notches indicating the former presence of wood sliding locks. The straight bracket feet are set slightly inward of the base molding. Behind the feet are upright chamfered glue blocks at the outside corners flanked by horizontal chamfered glue blocks. The underside of each bracket contains a screw pocket. The back brackets of the rear feet follow in pine the outline of the front and side brackets and fit into grooves in the side brackets. Notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd from photographs supplied by Adams Taylor.