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Slant-front desk

Object number



Maker, formerly attributed to John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809
Maker Unknown
(brasses) John Gold, British, active 1760


Width: 37 1/4 in. (94.615 cm) Writing Height: 31 1/2 in. (80.01 cm)



Current location

Newport Restoration Foundation, Rhode Island


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


Mahogany (primary); cedar (sides and backs of interior drawers); mahogany or Spanish cedar (bottoms of interior drawers); chestnut (bottom board of desk interior, sides and backs of exterior drawers, glue blocks at case front, and backs of drawer dividers); pine (bottoms of proper-right middle and lower interior desk drawers, bottoms of exterior drawers, proper-left side of upper exterior drawer, case bottom and backboards, and drawer supports and guides)


"I Gold," stamped, on several of cast brass back plates


“1” through “3,” in graphite, on interior backs and sides [at front corners] of proper-right drawers in desk interior [top to bottom]; “4,” in graphite, on interior back and front corners of drawer to proper-right of prospect; “5” through “7,” in graphite, on interior backs and front corners of prospect drawers [top to bottom]; 8,” in graphite, on interior back and front corners of drawer to proper-left of prospect; “9” through “11,” in graphite, on interior backs and front corners of proper-left drawers in desk interior [top to bottom]; “1” through “6,” in graphite, on interior back and front corners of valance drawers [proper-right to proper-left]; “B” through “D,” in graphite, on interior backs of exterior drawers [from second drawer from top to bottom drawer]; "IT," incised, on underside of bottom board


Harry Arons (1891–1967), Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1968. Dr. Clarence Zimmerman (1935–2009) Cambridge, Massachusetts; consigned by his estate to Sotheby's, New York, January 22–23, 2010, lot 474; sold to Newport Restoration Foundation, Rhode Island

Associated names

Harry Arons
Dr. Clarence Zimmerman


The single-board top is attached to the sides with half-blind dovetails. The case sides are: proper left two pieces, proper right one piece. The case back consists of three horizontal half-lapped boards attached to the case top, bottom and sides with rosehead nails. The single-board case bottom is dovetailed to the case sides and flush with the bottom of the base molding. The joint of the bottom front rail to the case bottom is reinforced with long triangular blocks. The hinged lid consists of two vertical boards centering a large horizontal board, supported, when open, by two half-height thumb-molded lopers. The tenons from the horizontal board are visible on the underside of the vertical boards. The stile next to the loper is let into grooves in the top rail and drawer divider below. The case contains four thumb-molded and graduated drawers, the upper fitted with wooden locking mechanisms at the front corners. The tops of the drawer sides are rounded and shy of the top of the drawer front. The tops of the drawer backs are slightly chamfered. The sides of the upper drawer are joined to the front with two dovetails, each containing a rosehead nail, with half-pin above and full pin below. The upper drawer bottom is a single board, the others have two boards each, chamfered at the front and sides and let into grooves in the drawer fronts and nailed to the sides and back. Runners (replaced) are applied with brads to the drawer sides. There are prominent and extensive kerf marks on the drawer fronts. The bottom rail joint is set into grooves in the case sides. The top rail and drawer dividers are attached to the case with half-blind dovetail joints. The drawer dividers are not deep and have mahogany veneers. The drawer supports are nailed into the case sides and taper sharply toward the rear of the case, to which they are fixed with rosehead nails. The desk interior consists of a well with sliding lid opening to the upper case drawer, a prospect drawer concealing three drawers flanked by three open compartments with "secret" valance drawers above and single drawers below, flanked in turn by three small drawers. The small drawers? sides have chamfered top edges. The small drawer bottoms are glued to rabbets in the drawer sides. The small drawer fronts bear kerf marks. The valance drawer sides have rounded tops. The valance drawer fronts are attached with a large single dovetail. The valance drawer bottoms are attached with brads to the drawer sides and backs. The front ogee bracket feet are mitred at the front corners. The back feet have simple angular rear brackets and fit into grooves in the sides of the rear feet. The ogee bracket feet are reinforced with vertical glue blocks that rest against the case bottom which the horizontal glue blocks abut. Examined by P. E. Kane, B. W. Colman, and M. Taradash, January 1, 2010; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.


John Gold's foundry operated in Birmingham, England in the 1760's. A chest of drawers made by Benjamin Frothingham, Jr. (1734–1809) at the Winterthur Museum has stamped John Gold hardware.


"Harry Arons advertisement," Antiques 94, no. 1 (July 1968): 37.
Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana, sale cat. (January 22–23, 2010), 86, lot 474, ill.