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Photo: Courtesy Diplomatic Reception Rooms, United States Department of State, 78.67
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Bureau table

Object number



Maker Thomas Townsend, 1742–1827
Maker formerly attributed Edmund Townsend, 1736/7–1811


33 x 36 1/4 x 20 3/8 in. (83.82 x 92.075 x 51.753 cm)


probably 1765

Current location

Diplomatic Reception Rooms, Department of State


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


Mahogany (primary); chestnut, eastern red cedar, eastern white pine, yellow poplar, and poplar [possibly aspen] (secondary)


"Thomas Townsend of Newport son of Job Townsend / deceased of Newport," in graphite, on underside of divider under proper-left upper drawer


Illegible graphite, on interior sides of top drawer; illegible name ["Mar....H...."], in graphite, on exterior proper-right side of proper-left upper drawer; “6,” incised on exterior back of proper-left lower drawer; compass work designs [pin wheels and a heart], incised on exterior case bottom; illegible chalk, on exterior case bottom




By descent in the Watts family, Newport, Rhode Island. Christie's, New York, October 21, 1978, lot 296; sold to the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, Department of State, Washington, D.C., 1978

Associated names

Watts Family


The inscription on this bureau table suggests that it was made shortly after the death of Job Townsend in 1765.


American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, 10 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Highland House Publishers, 1957–1989), vol. 9, p. 161, ill.
"Christie's, New York, advertisement," Antiques 114, no. 3 (September 1978): 371, ill.
Christie's, New York, Fine American Furniture and Decorations, sale cat. (October 21, 1978), 100–101, lot 296.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 298–99, fig. 7.23, 7.23a–b.
Clement E. Conger, Alexandra W. Rollins, and Mary Itsell, Treasures of State: Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. Department of State (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991), 134-35, no. 52, ill.
Karla Klein Albertson, "Becoming a Nation: Americana From The Diplomatic Reception Rooms of The U.S. Department of State," Antiques and the Arts Weekly (January 9, 2004): 70, ill.
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), 284n4, 285–287, 292, no. 53, fig. 1–3.
Oscar P. Fitzgerald, American Furniture: 1650 to the Present (Lanham, Md.: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., 2018), 85, fig. 4.49.