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Desk and bookcase

Object number



Maker Unknown


95 3/4 37 1/2 23 in. (243.21 95.25 58.42 cm)



Current location

Private Collection


Probably made in Providence, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)


Walnut with light and dark wood inlays (primary); chestnut (back and bottom boards of bookcase, desk backboards, desk top, one bottom board of desk, backs of large column drawers of bookcase, desk drawer dividers, and some bookcase drawer dividers); pine (drawer linings, some bookcase drawer dividers, drawer stops, exterior desk drawer runners, and glue blocks on underside of desk); yellow poplar (bonnet top and backboards and one bottom board of desk); maple (finials)




Interior bookcase drawers (from top to bottom): "L," in chalk, on exterior of proper-right square drawer back; "LT," in chalk, on exterior of proper-right upper drawer back; "LU," in chalk, on exterior of proper-right lower drawer back; "RT," in chalk, on exterior of proper-left upper drawer back; "RU," in chalk, on exterior of proper-left lower drawer back; "R," in chalk, on exterior of proper-left square drawer back; "L," in chalk, on exterior of proper-right drawer back; "M," in chalk, on exterior of middle drawer back; "R," in chalk, on exterior of proper-left drawer back; "^," inscribed on exterior back of both column drawers; "|," in chalk, on exterior sides of both column drawers; "14 [later]," in graphite, on exterior side of proper-right column drawer; "15 [later]," in graphite, on exterior side of proper-left column drawer; "B pro[?]," in chalk, on exterior back of prospect drawer; interior desk drawers (top to bottom): "1," in chalk, on exterior of proper-right drawer back; "2," in chalk, on exterior back of drawer to proper-right of prospect; "Lt hand," in chalk, on exterior side of proper-right column drawer; "pros.[?]," in chalk, on exterior of prospect drawer back; "Rt hand," in chalk, on exterior side of proper-left column drawer; "3," in chalk, on exterior back of drawer to proper-left of prospect; "4," in chalk, on exterior of proper-left drawer back; "1" to "5," in chalk, on exterior of lower drawer backs; exterior desk drawers: "|," in chalk, on exterior drawer backs; "X [lumber mark]," inscribed, on exterior bottom of second drawer from top; "5507 / 33," in chalk, on exterior backboards of bonnet


Israel Sack, Inc., New York, by 1948; sold to Jean Chorley (1904–1992) and Kenneth Chorley (1893–1974), Hopewell, New Jersey; consigned by her estate to Christie's, New York, January 25, 1993, lot 207, sold to a private collection, Pennsylvania; consigned to Christie's, New York, January 23–24, 27, 2014, lot 114; sold to Gary R. Sullivan Antiques, Inc., Sharon, Massachusetts; sold to a private collection, 2014

Associated names

Jean Chorley
Kenneth Chorley
Israel Sack, Inc.
Gary R. Sullivan Antiques, Inc.


The bookcase roof consists of several boards shaped to align with the serpentine backboard and scrollboard, and nailed with brads to them and to the tops of vertical walls enclosing the void between the two pediment sides. The roof includes triangular sections behind the central pediment termini, above shaped blocking glued to the back of the scrollboard. The floor of the void is a single board nailed with brads into the scrollboard and into the top of the single-piece pediment backboard. An upright element with incurvate sides and a hexagonal top is backed up by a shaped and chamfered block in which sits a turned finial. Rectangular blocks at the pediment?s outer frontal extremities support similar finials. The pediment?s single-piece beaded cove molding is nailed with brads to the single-board case sides and line- and compass-inlaid scrollboard, which is joined, among other means, by wood pins flanking its central compass inlay, to blocking behind. The bookcase back consists of multiple vertical boards nailed and screwed directly to a horizontal board atop the fitted interior and to the upper-case bottom board, and to rabbets in the case sides. The arched top-rails of the line- and compass-inlaid, paneled bookcase doors are through-tenoned to the stiles. The doors swing by means of engraved brass hinges mounted with screws to the edges of the door stiles and to the case sides. Atop the bookcase interior is an unfinished void above its horizontal "roof", below which are eight open compartments of varying widths, the four flanking compartments with scalloped valances. The compartments are separated by scrolling uprights set into V-shaped grooves in the divider below. Below is an arrangement of nine small drawers above a prospect door and column drawers, flanked by open compartments with scrolling dividers. The three small drawers below have shaped fronts. The kerf-marked small-drawer fronts meet their drawer sides, with very slightly arched tops, in dovetail joints with large, thick-necked pins of varying thickness and configuration, with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The small-drawer sides are slightly shy of their drawer fronts. The single-board drawer bottoms, perpendicular to the fronts, are glued into rabbets in the elements above. The column drawers have fluted fronts with molded bases and capitals. Their sides fit into rabbets in the drawer fronts and back and are nailed with brads thereto. The bottom rail of the bookcase section, which contains two flat-fronted candleslides, is wood-pinned five times to the bottom- twice each at the proper left and right ends, and once in the center. The bottom board is dovetailed to the case sides. The dovetails which join the single-board desk-section top to the two-board case sides are largely obscured by a molding applied with wood-filled fasteners. The line-inlaid stiles of the hinged lid are tenoned to the similarly inlaid rails without wood pins and enclose a single-board, compass- and line-inlaid panel. The joints between the stiles and bottom rails are visible above the half-height lopers. The desk interior consists of a prospect door flanked by fluted column drawers and valanced open compartments with straight upright dividers, over two pairs of straight-fronted small drawers, and five concave-molded-front small drawers. The drawers of the desk interior are constructed in a manner similar to the drawers above. The case back consists of three horizontal half-lapped boards fixed with rosehead and other nails into rabbets in the desk top and sides and directly into the two-board case bottom. The joints between the case bottom and sides are obscured by horizontal glue blocks- large and rectangular at each corner, and narrow at the front and sides- applied to the case bottom, coplanar with the (later) base molding. Within the case, the joints between the top rail and drawer dividers and the case sides are obscured by bead moldings on the stiles. The loper vertical dividers are set into grooves in their neighboring members. There is no bottom rail. Drawer supports and stops are replaced. The kerf-marked, graduated, thumb-molded and line-inlaid drawer fronts are not lipped, and meet their drawer sides, with slightly shaped tops, in dovetail joints having pins of varying configuration and spacing, with half-pins above and below. The two-board drawer bottoms, parallel to the fronts, are chamfered at the front and sides, where they are set into grooves. They are now fitted with full-depth drawer runners, and nailed with brads up into the flat-topped drawer backs above. Into the blocks at each corner of the case bottom are doweled turned bun feet with incised lines. The tops of the feet are visible inside the case bottom, as are circular holes, set inward of the top of each foot, which do not penetrate the case bottom. There are multiple shadows on the underside of the case-bottom blocks. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, January 22, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.


Christie's, New York, The Jean and Kenneth Chorley Collection, sale cat. (January 25, 1993), 72–73, lot 207, ill.
Albert Sack, Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1950), 157, ill.
Christie's, New York, Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, and Chinese Export Art, sale cat. (January 23–24, and 27, 2014), 100–101, lot 114, ill.
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), 2, 5n9, 205, 236, 240–243, no. 40, fig. 1, 3.
"Israel Sack, Inc., advertisement," Antiques 54, no. 3 (September 1948): 131, ill.