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Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's, New York
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Slant-front desk

Object number



Maker John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809


41 40 22 3/4 in. (104.14 101.6 57.785 cm)



Current location



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


Mahogany (primary); mahogany (some valance drawer linings); cherry (drawer dividers); chestnut (exterior drawer bottoms); cedar (sides of the interior drawers); yellow poplar (bottoms of the interior drawers)


"[N]EWPORT imprinted on a partial paper label glued in the top drawer. This label is of the type used by John Townsend.


"A" through "F" in graphite on the undersides of the valance drawers; "A" through "H" in graphite on the interior drawers with the exception of the prospect drawers


The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; consigned to Sotheby's, New York, January 20, 21 and 23, 2005, lot 1193. Skinner, Inc., Boston and Bolton, Massachusetts (sale held Boston), February 19, 2006, lot 49

Associated names

Johns Hopkins University
Skinner, Inc.


Blind dovetail fasten the drawer dividers to the case sides. The one-piece bottoms on the exterior drawers are nailed to the underside of the back with brads. The feet and the keyhole escutcheons are replaced. Three hinges fasten the slant-front to the desk interior. Cursory examination by P. E. Kane, January 19, 2005.


Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana including Property of Descendants of John Nicholas Brown, sale cat. (January 20–21, 23, 2005), 295–96, lot 1193, ill.
Skinner, Inc., Boston and Bolton, Mass., American Furniture and Decorative Arts, sale cat. (February 19, 2006), 19–20, lot 49.
Frances McQueeney, "Strong Money Goes to Good Painted Folk Art at Skinner," Antiques and the Arts Weekly (2006): 127-A, 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), 453–54, 455n11.