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Photo: Courtesy The Chipstone Foundation, Fox Point, Wis., 1971.11; photo by Jim Wildeman
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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF469

Maker

Maker John Goddard, American, 1723–1785

Dimensions

42 x 35 1/2 x 19 in. (106.68 x 90.17 x 48.26 cm)

Date

1745

Current location

The Chipstone Foundation

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); mahogany (linings of the interior desk drawers); white pine (bottom board, board below drawers on either side of prospect, drawer supports and guides, linings of exterior drawers, and backboards); chestnut (board below prospect)

Marks

"Made by John Goddard of / Newport on Rhoadisland in Newengland / in the year of our Lord 1745," written in ink on a paper label measuring 1 5/8 x 6 3/8 inches, glued to interior back of top exterior drawer

Inscriptions

“5[?],” in chalk, on interior back of proper-left drawer; illegible chalk, on interior back of prospect drawer; “A,” in chalk, on interior back of top exterior drawer; “1745 [later],” twice in graphite, on interior proper-right side of top exterior drawer; "S. MORTON," branded, on exterior proper-left side of top exterior drawer; “B,” in chalk, on interior back of middle exterior drawer; “C,” in chalk, on interior back of lower exterior drawer

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Sylvanus Morton (1805–1887), Milton, Nova Scotia, Canada; by descent to his son, John Graham Morton (1838–1923), Milton, Nova Scotia, Canada; by descent to his daughter, Alina Agnes Morton (1878–possibly 1963), Milton, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Cleveland, Ohio; by descent to an unidentified niece; sold to John S. Walton, Inc., New York, by 1971; sold to Polly Mariner Stone (1898–1995) and Stanley Stone (1896–1987), Fox Point, Wisconsin, 1971; bequeathed by Stanley Stone to the Chipstone Foundation, Fox Point, Wisconsin, 1987

Associated names

Sylvanus Morton
John Gorham Morton
Alina Agnes Morton
Polly Mariner Stone
Stanley Stone

Construction

The single-board top meets the two-board case sides in half-blind dovetail joints, having large, thick-necked pins of varying configurations, with half-pins in front and in back. The hinged, thumb-molded lid once probably consisted of one large horizontal board tenoned to two flanking vertical boards. Repairs have added narrow strips to the top edge of the horizontal board and the outside edge of the proper left vertical board. The lid opens to an interior centering a flat-fronted prospect door hinged at its bottom, and opening to a pair of vertical compartments above a concave-blocked small drawer, flanked by banks of three open compartments with arched valances and scalloped dividers over single small drawers, flanked by ressaulted scrolling partitions enclosing valanced compartments and small drawers. The central portion of the interior sits upon a molded base, behind which, on either side of the prospect section, are a large wood-filled fastener and a small nail. The concave-blocked drawer front in the prospect section meets its slightly shorter, arched-top drawer side in dovetail joints, each having a single large tail, with half-pins above and below. The straight-fronted drawers? dovetail joints have finely cut, thick-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The drawer bottoms, parallel to the fronts, are glued into rabbets in the elements above. The drawer-back tops are flat, with chamfered rear edges. The case back consists of four horizontal half-lapped boards nailed with brads into rabbets in the case sides and directly to the two-board case bottom, which is dovetailed, with thick-necked pins, to the case sides. There is a single nail in the front center of the case bottom. Within the case, the interior "ceiling" consists of three longitudinal boards – one mahogany in front being the underside of the writing surface above, one mahogany behind being a strip beneath the molding below the central portion of the desk interior, and one pine in the back being the underside of the board behind the molded base of the desk interior, all set into grooves in the case sides. The lopers slide upon supports fixed with rosehead nails to the case sides. The drawer supports below are half-lapped to the drawer dividers. The top rail meets the case sides in a dovetail joint, the drawer dividers in half-dovetail joins, and the bottom rail is set into grooves in the case sides. The base molding is joined to the bottom of the case with wood-filled fasteners. The kerf-marked drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, chamfered-top sides in dovetail joints, having large, thick-necked pins, with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. Some of the tails are reinforced with nails. The two-board, full-width drawer bottoms are parallel to the front and chamfered at the front, where they fit into grooves, and at the sides, where they are secured by wood pins through full-depth drawer runners (replaced). The bottoms are fixed to the drawer backs, where tops are flat with chamfered back edges, with rosehead nails. The feet consist of vertical chamfered blocks flanked by horizontal chamfered blocks, the whole faced with straight brackets with ogee profiles. The rear feet are similar, except for their back brackets, which are straight pine boards with diagonal profiles, set into rabbets in the side-facing brackets. The proper right rear foot?s back bracket is face-nailed with rosehead nails and its side bracket is face-nailed with brads to its vertical block. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, May 16, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Stanley Stone, "Documented Newport Furniture," Antiques 103, no. 2 (February 1973): 319, ill.
Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, American Furniture at Chipstone (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), 56–59, no. 26, ill.
Jeanne Vibert Sloane, "John Cahoone and the Newport Furniture Industry," Old-Time New England 72 (1987): 107, fig. 7.
Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, "Living with Antiques: Chipstone near Milwaukee," Antiques 133, no. 5 (May 1988): 1154, pl.16.
Margaretta M. Lovell, "Such Furniture as Will Be Most Profitable: The Business of Cabinetmaking in Eighteenth-Century Newport," Winterthur Portfolio 26, no. 1 (Spring 1991): 31, 42, 44, 47, fig. 1, 12.
Luke Beckerdite, "The Early Furniture of Christopher and Job Townsend," American Furniture (2000): 27–28, fig. 46.
Margaretta M. Lovell, Art in a Season of Revolution: Painters, Artisans, and Patrons in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), 229–230, 246,250, fig. 92–93.
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), 2, 44–45, 164n3, 198–200, 203, 301n3, 302, 447, no. 27, fig. 1, 7.