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Desk and bookcase


Object number

RIF5843

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

93 41 1/2 23 1/4 in. (236.2 105.4 59.1 cm)

Date

1760–1780

Current location

Stanley Weiss Collection

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); pine (secondary)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

"B," in chalk, on middle back board of desk; "A," in graphite, on exterior back of top exterior drawer; "Back," in chalk, on exterior backs of middle two exterior drawers; "Bottom," in graphite, on underside of bookcase; layout drawing of scrollboard oculi, in graphite, on back of pediment; illegible inscription, incised, on top of desk; illegible script in two lines, in graphite, on interior bottom of one drawer in bookcase; mathematical calculations on interior bottom of same drawer; "A," in graphite, on proper left exterior side and exterior back of proper right valance drawer; "B," in graphite, on proper left and proper right exterior sides and exterior back of valance drawer at proper right of prospect; "C," in graphite, on proper left exterior side and exterior back of valance drawer at proper leftt of prospect; "D," in graphite, on proper right exterior side and exterior back of valance drawer at proper left; "A," in graphite, on proper left and proper right exterior sides and exterior back of proper right long drawer; "B," in graphite, on proper left and proper right exterior sides and exterior back of proper left long drawer; "A / Cabn[n superscript]," in graphite, on exterior back of top prospect drawer; "B / Cabn[n superscript]," in graphite, on exterior back of middle prospect drawer; "B," in graphite, on proper right exterior side of same drawer; "C / Cabn[n superscript]," in graphite, on exterior back of bottom prospect drawer; "A," in graphite, on proper left and proper right exterior sides and exterior back of uppper proper right small interior drawer; "B," in graphite, on proper left and proper right exterior sides and exterior back of lower proper right small interior drawer; "C," in graphite, on proper left and proper right exterior sides and exterior back of upper proper left small interior drawer; "D," in graphite, on proper left and proper right exterior sides of lower proper left small interior drawer

Provenance

Christie's East, New York, June 23, 1995, lot 280; sold to The Stanley Weiss Collection, Providence, Rhode Island

Associated names

Christie's East

Construction

The bookcase roof consists of multiple transverse boards shaped to align with the serpentine pediment and backboard. The boards are fixed with rosehead and other nails to the tops of the scrollboard in front, the pediment backboard behind, the tops of the bookcase sides, and to blocking within the closed pediment. The bookcase back consists of three half-lapped horizontal boards (and a small, later, vertical one) chamfered at the sides and fixed with rosehead and other nails into rabbets in the case sides and directly to the bookcase bottom board and vertical elements within. The scrollboard consists of three pieces?a large horizontal board below and two nearly triangular pieces above. The three-quarter round oculi are enclosed by a single board, and the edges of the scrollboard are finished in cockbeading applied with brads. At the center of the oculi is a fluted plinth (with separate molded cap and base) supporting a turned, fluted and painted vasiform finial which is flat in back. A single-piece beaded cove molding is fixed to the scrollboard and case sides with face nails and wood-filled fasteners. The bookcase ceiling is fixed with wood-filled fasteners to the scrollboard at its lateral extremities, near where the tops of the bookcase sides? front edges are revealed. The bookcase floor, ceiling and interior walls are routed to receive fixed stiles and shelves with applied double-beaded faces. The hinged, thumb-molded doors are of the full-overlay sort, whose outer stiles simulate partial overlay construction. Their rails are tenoned without wood pins to stiles, enclosing panels which are flat within and fielded without. Attached to the bookcase floor and its bottom with wood-filled fasteners is a three-piece base assembly which includes flanking rectangles and a central horizontal board with cutouts for cockbeaded candleslides. The cockbeading is attached with brads. The bookcase?s single-piece bottom board is heavily scribe-lined for the laying out of the candleslides above. It meets the case sides in dovetail joints with pins of slightly varying configuration, with half-pins in front and in back. Rosehead nails in the bookcase bottom connect it to blocking within the base assembly above. The top of the desk section is a single board whose connections to the case sides are concealed by a bed molding fixed with wood-filled fasteners. The hinged lid consists of three pieces?one large horizontal board tenoned into flanking vertical boards. The joints between them are not visible. It opens to an interior which includes a single-board, concave-blocked, valance-carved prospect door, opening to three small drawers with ogee-profiled fronts and flanked by double-beaded stiles. On each side are long drawers over two small drawers (each with ogee-profiled fronts) the latter flanked by concave-blocked valance drawers. The slightly kerf-marked small-drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, arch-topped drawer sides in dovetail joints having finely cut pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The small-drawer bottoms are perpendicular to the fronts, and glued into rabbets there and in the sides and backs; the larger small-drawer bottoms are parallel to their fronts. The tops of the drawer-backs have chamfered ends and back edges, aligning them with the drawer-side tops. The interior sits upon a cove-molded base. The top rail/writing surface and drawer dividers below meet the case sides in half-blind dovetail joints; the vertical elements enclosing the lopers sits in grooves in the toprail above and drawer divider below. The lower-case back consists of four horizontal half-lapped boards fixed with rosehead and other nails into rabbets in the tops and sides of the case and directly to the back edges of the desk interior?s stiles and horizontal elements. Within the case are drawer supports tenoned into the backs of drawer dividers, fixed with rosehead nails, cut nails and wood-filled fasteners to the case sides. The intermediate drawer supports are chamfered at the back of the case, where they are accompanied by stops fixed with rosehead nails and wood-filled fasteners to the case sides. There are two chamfered rectilinear glue blocks behind the bottom rail. Loper guides are fixed to the tops of the upper drawer supports; loper stops are fixed with rosehead nails to the case sides. The floor of the desk interior is set into grooves in the case sides. Its chamfered front edge is set into the back edge of the top rail/writing surface. At the back of the case, it is further supported by a longitudinal board (also set into grooves in the case sides) to which are fixed, with rosehead nails, small longitudinal upper-drawer stops. The cock-beaded, graduated, slightly kerf-marked long-drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, chamfered-top sides in dovetail joints having finely cut pins with large half-pins above and small half-pins below. The pins? necks are covered by cock-beading fixed with wood-filled fasteners. The two-board drawer bottoms are chamfered at the front and at the full-height sides, where they fit into grooves, and are nailed to the bottoms of the drawer backs, whose tops are chamfered on their inside and outside edges. A cut-away rectangular portion of a drawer back?s upper proper-right outside corner centers a rosehead nail. Another drawer back contains a semi-circular cut-away portion in a similar location. A single-piece base molding is fixed with wood-filled fasteners to the case sides and bottom rail. The single-board case bottom meets the case sides in half-blind dovetail joints having pins of varying configuration. Each front foot consists of shaped butt-jointed horizontal blocks, attached directly to the case bottom, to which is attached a chamfered vertical block, the whole faced with mahogany ogee brackets. Each rear foot consists of a rectilinear vertical block attached directly to the case bottom, flanked by shaped blocks at the side and chamfered rectangular blocks in back. At the side are ogee brackets; in back are simple trapezoidal straight-profiled boards set into grooves in the side-facing brackets. Examined by P.E. Kane, May 16, 2019; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Christie's East, New York, Americana, sale cat. (June 23, 1995), lot 280.
"A Chippendale Mahogany Bonnet Top Secretary with Original Brasses and Finials, Newport, c. 1760," http://www.tildenthurber.com/stanleyweiss/pages/items7/sw00776r.html (accessed August 27, 2010), sw00776.
Stanley Weiss and Brock Jobe, Fine American Antiques in the Stanley Weiss Collection (Providence, R.I.: Stanley Weiss Collection, 2019), 2, sw00776, ill.