image of object
Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's, New York
Click the image to enlarge

Butler's desk

Object number



Maker Unknown


40 46 24 1/2 in. (101.6 116.84 62.23 cm)



Current location



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


Mahogany (primary); birch (writing surface beneath the baise), white pine (drawer linings, backboard, drawer supports, back of interior desk section, glue blocks)




"X" in chalk on the interior drawer back of the drawer


Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence; consigned to Sotheby's, New York, October 7, 2006, lot 221

Associated names

The Rhode Island Historical Society


The top and upper drawer front are hinged to reveal a desk interior. The underside of the lid is grooved to fit over the case sides and the top edge of the butler's drawer. The stationary part of the top overhangs the back of the case slightly and has a bead run in its top edge. The drawer support rests on a groove cut in the corner post; the post continues above the drawer support, but is narrower; a guide rests on the drawer support and butts the front and rear posts. Rectangular glue blocks reinforce the joint of the front of the writing surface and the top rail. On the exterior drawer the grain of the bottom board runs from side to side; the board is nailed to a rabbet in the drawer front and is chamfered to fit in grooves in the drawer sides and is nailed to the underside of the drawer back. Half-blind dovetails with a half-pin at the top and a half tail at the bottom fasten the drawer front to the drawer sides; the interior f the drawer sides are slotted for dividers; the top edges of the drawer sides are flat and are almost flush with the drawer front. The small interior drawers are constructed in two ways. On some the bottoms are chamfered at the sides and front to fit in grooves in the drawer sides and front and are nailed at the back. On others the bottoms are glued and nailed to rabbets in the drawer sides. The horizontal one-piece case back is tenoned into the corner posts. The front legs have four stop flutes. Examined by P. E. Kane, October 4, 2006.


Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana Including Property from the Rhode Island Historical Society, sale cat. (October 7, 2006), 157, lot 221, ill.