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From: Gronning and Coes, "The Early Work of John Townsend in the Christopher Townsend Shop Tradition,"American Furniture(2013):19
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Slant-front desk

Object number



Maker Christopher Townsend, 1701–1787


39 37 1/2 20 in. (99.06 95.25 50.8 cm)



Current location

Private Collection


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


Mahogany (primary); mahogany (linings of interior drawers); white pine (case bottom); yellow poplar (drawer sides, drawer backs, drawer bottoms, drawer rails, and back)


"A," "C," and "E," in graphite, on interior backs of proper-right tier of interior drawers from top to bottom; "B," "D," and "F," in graphite, on interior backs proper-left tier of interior drawers; "C," in graphite, on interior back of lowest drawer drawer behind prospect door; "C," and "D," in graphite, on valance drawers; "B," "C," and "D," in graphite, and double loops, in chalk, on interior back of exterior drawers; illegible chalk, perhaps beginning with "T" on underside of case; "C T / Made by," in graphite on underside of case


By descent in the Pease family, Rhode Island. Joseph Kabe Estate Auction, Milford, Connecticut, 2010

Associated names

Pease family of Rhode Island
Joseph Kabe Estate Auction


The single-board top is joined by blind dovetails to the case sides. The hinged lid swings on two sets of brass hinges, is supported by unusually short lopers and is assembled in the "breadboard" manner, with a large horizontal board flanked by and tenoned into narrow vertical boards, the whole with a lipped, thumb-molded edge. The tenons are visible at the bottom of the lid. The interior consists of a concave-blocked and shell-carved prospect door which opens to reveal three concave-blocked small drawers, flanked by banks of two concave, half-round blocked valance drawers over open compartments and convex-blocked small drawers, in turn flanked by banks of three concave-blocked small drawers, the upper drawer fronts shell-carved. The interior sits on a molded base above a well, thumb-molded at the edge, and fitted with a sliding lid. The small drawers feature dovetail joints with finely cut pins, with half-pins above. The drawer sides have arched tops just shy of the drawer fronts. The tops of the drawer backs are flat and just proud of the drawer sides. The drawer bottoms are set into rabbets and glued to the fronts, sides, and backs above. The single-board case bottom is dovetailed to the case sides and is flush with the bottom of the base molding. The case contains a top rail and three drawer dividers joined to the case sides with half-blind dovetails. Each drawer has supports, exhibiting considerable wear, nailed with brads into the case sides. The bottom rail fits into grooves in the case sides. There are four lipped, thumb-molded graduated long drawers, whose fronts have dovetail joints, with finely cut narrow-necked pins and half-pins above, with half-pins and rabbets below. The dovetails are reinforced with rosehead and later nails. The drawer sides are slightly arched, flush with the drawer fronts and with the flat-topped drawer backs, which are slightly chamfered at the corners. The single-board drawer bottoms run parallel to the drawer fronts, where they are set into grooves. They are slightly chamfered at the sides and nailed with brads to the drawer sides above. These nails are concealed under runners. The front feet are missing altogether, (replaced by later blocks and casters) though shadows of glue blocks remain. At the rear are truncated straight bracket feet behind which are shaped glue blocks flanking rectangular blocks (now fitted with casters) bearing deep rectangular holes. Notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd from photographs supplied by the owner.


The lower portion of the feet are replaced. The desk may originally have had ball feet. Source: Erik Gronning and Amy Coes, "The Early Work of John Townsend in the Christopher Townsend Shop Tradition," American Furniture (2013): 19–20, fig. 38–39.


Erik K. Gronning and Amy Coes, "The Early Work of John Townsend in the Christopher Townsend Shop Tradition," American Furniture (2013): 19–20, fig. 38–43.
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), 209n5, 217n6, 451, 455n9.