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Slant-front desk

Object number



Maker, attributed to John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809


42 × 40 × 23 in. (106.68 × 101.6 × 58.42 cm)



Current location

Private Collection


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


Mahogany (primary); mahogany (linings of interior drawers); chestnut (drawer linings, case back, bottom board, blocks for front rail and bottom board); yellow poplar (vertical brace)




“A” through “K,” in graphite, on interior bottoms of interior drawers; illegible chalk on exterior backs on exterior drawers; 'III," incised, on interior back of one valance drawer


Andrew Judson (1749–1804), Stratford, Connecticut; by descent to John Work Judson (1782–1811); by descent to his son, John Work Judson II (1810–1878), Oswego, New York; by descent to his son John Andrew Judson (1838–1892); by descent to his wife, Mrs. John Andrew Judson (née Katherine Porter Paine); by descent to her son, George Porter Paine, Sr., (1877–1928); by descent to his son, George Porter Paine, Jr. (1909–1974); by descent to his widow; consigned to Sotheby's, New York, October 26, 1985, lot 102. Israel Sack, Inc., New York; sold to a private collection

Associated names

Andrew Judson
John Work Judson
John Work Judson II
George Porter Paine Sr.
John Andrew Judson
Katherine Porter Paine
George Porter Paine Jr.
Israel Sack, Inc.


The single?board top meets the single-board case sides in half-blind dovetail joints having finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins in front. The hinged, lipped and thumb-molded lid consists of a large horizontal board tenoned into flanking vertical rails. The tenons are visible at the top and bottom of the lid when it is closed. The interior includes a shell-carved, concave-blocked prospect door flanked by beaded stiles and rows of quarter-spherically concave-blocked and beaded scallop-skirted valance drawers separated by scalloped uprights set into V-grooves in convex-blocked shelves atop convex-blocked small drawers. At either side are banks of three convex-blocked small-drawers, the upper ones shell-carved. The interior sits upon a blocked and ogee-molded base. The interior writing surface consists of a front rail half-blind dovetailed to the case sides into which are tenoned two lateral boards. These elements and a largely obscured board under the interior drawers have thumb-molded inside edges enclosing a sliding well cover whose crescent-shaped concave pull has a beaded edge. The interior drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, round-topped drawer sides in dovetail joints having large, finely cut narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The single-board drawer bottoms are perpendicular to the fronts. The case back consists of three half-lapped horizontal boards nailed with brads into rabbets in the back edges of the top and sides. Rosehead nails in the upper back board align with vertical and horizontal elements of the interior. Within the case, drawer dividers are half-blind dovetailed to the sides. Vertical elements enclosing the half-height molded lopers are half-blind dovetailed to the top rail above and set into grooves in the drawer divider below. The bottom rail, behind which are four horizontal chamfered glue blocks, is set into grooves in the case sides. Flush with its upper surface are (probably later) lower-drawer supports nailed to the case sides. A vertical batten at the midpoint of the case interior is nailed from the inside with brads into the backboards. The lipped, thumb-molded, graduated, slightly kerf-marked exterior drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, round-topped drawer sides in dovetail joints having large, finely cut, narrow-necked pins of slightly varying configuration, with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The multi-board full-width drawer bottoms, perpendicular to the front, are chamfered at the front where they fit into grooves, and at the sides, where their connection with the drawer sides is obscured by later glued-on runners. The bottoms are nailed with brads to the bottoms of the flat-topped drawer backs. A single-piece base molding is fixed to the case by invisible means. At the top of the proper left front ogee bracket foot is a single wood pin. The backs of the rear feet are simple straight-profiled triangular brackets. The back edges of the rear-feet?s side-facing brackets are ogee-shaped, projecting beyond the plane of the case back, as are their adjacent, similarly profiled, slightly chamfered blocks. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, September 17, 2015; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd


Sotheby's, New York, Fine American Furniture, Folk Art, and Oriental Rugs, sale cat. (October 26, 1985), lot 102, ill.
"Sotheby's advertisement," Antiques 128, no. 4 (October 1985): 597, ill.