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From: Ralph E. Carpenter, "Newport, a Center of Colonial Cabinetmaking," Antiques 147 (April 1995): 550-556
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Desk and bookcase


Object number

RIF1874

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

92 40 22 in. (233.68 101.6 55.88 cm)

Date

1750–75

Current location


Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); chestnut (backing of board below pigeon holes); pine (all other secondary wood)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“1,” in chalk, on exterior back of upper and lower proper-right interior desk drawers; “1 M,” in chalk, on exterior back of proper-right middle interior desk drawer; illegible chalk, on interior backs of drawers flanking prospect; “2,” in chalk, on exterior back of drawer to proper-right of prospect; “4,” in chalk, on exterior back of drawer to proper-left of prospect; “J. E. MATHESON / Furniture * Upholstering / and Cabinet Making / Mattress Making and Steam Carpet Cleaning / 958 EIGHT AVENUE NEW YORK / Art Furniture, Bric-a-Brac and Picture Moving with Care / Gilding, Varnishing, Painting, Paper Hanging," stamped in black ink on interior bottom of drawer marked “4”; mathematical calculations, in chalk, on interior bottom of drawer marked “4”; “5 M,” in chalk, on exterior back of proper-left middle interior desk drawer; “5,” in chalk, on exterior back of proper-left lower interior desk drawer; illegible chalk, on interior backs of proper-left lower and middle drawers; “1” through “6,” in graphite, on exterior backs of valance drawers; “X,” in chalk, on exterior backs of exterior drawers; “X” or “V,” in chalk, on interior bottom board of desk at front rail

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Rogers Family, Newport, Rhode Island. Case Family, Newport, Rhode Island. National Trust for Historic Preservation

Associated names

Rogers family
Case Family
Mrs. George Connal-Rowan

Construction

A beaded crown molding attached to the single-piece scrollboard returns into the void behind the central urnform finial with corkscrew flame. The scrollboard?s lateral ends are fixed with wood-filled fasteners into half-lapped joints to the upper case-sides. The bookcase doors? rails are quarter-round molded at their inner and outer edges and are tenoned, without wood pins, to single-board fielded panels. At the top of the bookcase interior are fan-carved quarter-spherical tympana over valanced pigeonholes, vertical compartments with serpentine-fronted dividers and small drawers. The bottom rail of the bookcase section is fixed to its case bottom with wood-filled fasteners. In the front face of the single-piece molding which encloses the bookcase atop the desk section are more nails and wood-filled fasteners. The desk?s hinged lid consists of a large thumb-molded horizontal board tenoned into flanking narrow vertical boards. The joints between them are visible at the top and bottom of the lid. It opens to an interior which centers a concave-blocked, shell-carved prospect door flanked by double-beaded stiles. On either side are valanced and volute-carved, quarter-spherically concave-blocked small drawers over pigeonholes separated by partially serpentine uprights. The small-drawers? supports are set into grooves in the uprights. Below are convex-blocked drawers, flanked by a banks of concave-blocked drawers, the upper ones shell-carved, the whole raised on an alternately convex- and concave-blocked cove-molded base. The kerf-marked small-drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, arch-topped sides in dovetail joins having large, finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The drawer bottoms, perpendicular to the fronts, are nailed with brads into rabbets in the front, glued into rabbets in the sides, and nailed with brads directly to the bottoms of the drawer backs. Some drawer backs have small rectangular drawer stops nailed with brads. The writing surface consists of two horizontal boards; the forward board, and drawer dividers below, meet the case sides in half-blind dovetail joints. The mahogany fronts are face-nailed to the drawer dividers. The upright divider beside the molded, half-height loper front and the bottom rail both fit into grooves in their respective neighboring elements. Within the case, loper supports and stops are nailed with brads to the single-board case sides. The upper two pairs of drawer supports meet their respective drawer dividers in differing types of miter joints. There are three rectangular longitudinal glue blocks behind the bottom rail. The lipped, thumb-molded, graduated, kerf-marked drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, arch-topped sides in dovetail joints having large, finely cut pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The single board, full-width drawer bottoms, chamfered at the front and sides, are nailed into rabbets in the front and nailed through runners to the bottom of the drawer sides. The bottoms are fixed with brads to the flat-topped drawer-backs, whose outside corners are slightly rounded. On the underside of one drawer bottom, just behind the drawer front, are glued in place two small, thin rectangular wood blocks. The single-piece base molding is fixed to the case bottom and sides with face-nails and wood-filled fasteners. The feet consist of shaped, butt-jointed horizontal blocks over large vertical rectangular blocks, the whole faced with ogee brackets. The back faces of the rear feet are simple, straight-profiled incurvate brackets. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, September 16, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 341, fig. 8.26.
Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., "Newport, A Center of Colonial Cabinetmaking," Antiques 147, no. 4 (April 1995): 556–557, pl. 12, ill.