image of object
From: Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., "Catalog of the Rhode Island Historical Society Furniture Collection," Rhode Island History vol.17, no.1 (January 1958):30–31, no. 39, ill.
Click the image to enlarge

Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF6107

Maker

Maker Unknown

Date

1770–1800

Current location

The Rhode Island Historical Society

Geography

Made in Providence area, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Maple (primary); maple (board under desk interior); mahogany (fronts of interior drawers and interior drawer dividers); yellow poplar (drawer sides); pine (drawer bottoms, valance drawer linings, backboards of desk, drawer supports for middle drawers, blocks at front of case, and drawer guides); chestnut (bottom board of desk and drawer supports for upper and lower drawers)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“/,” in red pencil, on some interior sides, backs, and fronts of some valance drawers; “V[upward],” in chalk, on interior sides of some interior drawers; “X,” in chalk, on exterior sides [at front] of some interior drawers; illegible graphite, on interior bottom of drawer to proper-right of prospect; “///,” incised, on interior fronts of prospect drawers; “/,” incised, on interior front of proper-right interior drawers; “//,” incised on interior front of proper-left interior drawers; “X,” in chalk, on interior sides of exterior drawers; “B,” in chalk, on interior back of second exterior drawer from top; “B2[?],” in chalk, on interior back of third exterior drawer from top; “B[?],” in graphite, on interior back of bottom exterior drawer

Style

Queen Anne

Provenance

Henry A. Hoffman (born 1873), Barrington, Rhode Island, and Litchfield, Connecticut; given to the Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, 1953

Associated names

Henry A. Hoffman

Construction

The single-board top is joined to its multi-board case sides in half-blind dovetail joints with finely cut pins of slightly varying configuration, with half-pins in front. The case back consists of three horizontal boards fixed with rosehead and other nails into rabbets in the top and sides and directly to the case bottom. The hinged thumb-molded lid consists of one large horizontal board tenoned into two narrow flanking vertical boards; the tenons are visible at the bottom of the lid when it is closed. It opens to reveal an interior centering a concave-blocked shell-carved prospect drawer flanked by beaded stiles, which opens to one deep over one shallower concave-blocked small drawers. On either side are quarter-spherically concave-blocked small drawers with scallop-skirted and incised fronts over open compartments separated by scrolling uprights and convex-blocked drawers. The ?floor? of this section becomes the ?roof? of a ressaulted lower section containing a single long shell-carved convex-blocked drawer with a partitioned interior including three upright brackets carved to support a specific but unknown object. The central section is flanked by similarly stepped banks of shell-carved and concave-blocked drawers over ressaulted concave-blocked drawers. The partition separating them is scrolling and double-beaded. The desk interior is raised upon a molded base. The smallest drawers have deeply kerf-marked fronts, drawer sides with rounded tops, drawer backs with flat tops, and perpendicular bottoms glued into rabbets in the elements above. The larger drawers are configured similarly, with dovetail joints having somewhat thick-necked pins with half-pins above and flat-topped drawer sides. The largest drawer has a single-board bottom parallel to the front and chamfered at the front and sides, where it fits into grooves, and is fixed with rosehead nails into the bottom of its drawer back. The interior sits on an ogee base blocked to conform to its lower row of drawer fronts. Within the case a vertical batten is nailed to the inside faces of the backboards and full-depth drawer supports are fixed with rosehead nails to the case sides. The upper surface of the case?s top rail is the inside portion of the desk?s writing surface, rabbeted to fit around the vertical supports which enclose the thumb-molded lopers. The underside of the ?floor? of the desk interior is visible within the case; its front edge sits atop the back edge of the writing surface and its ends are dadoed to the case sides. The rabbeted ends of the loper supports, which also serve as supports for the upper drawer, are set into grooves in the case back. The lowest drawer supports sit on top of the single-board case bottom and are fixed with rosehead nails to the case sides. There are rectangular horizontal glue blocks behind the case?s bottom rail, which is set into grooves in the case sides. The drawer dividers above are half-blind dovetailed to the case sides. The four lipped, graduated, thumb-molded, deeply kerf-marked drawer fronts meet their somewhat shorter, arched-top sides in dovetail joints with large, thick-necked pins of varying configuration and arrangement, with half-pins above and below. The drawer bottoms are parallel to the front and fit into grooves in the front and the full-depth sides; they are fixed to the flat-topped drawer backs with rosehead nails. A base molding is fixed to the case with wood-filled fasteners. The short cabriole legs have angular knees and shod pad feet, and the rear legs do not project beyond the plane of the case back. The knee brackets are large and deep, attached to the case bottom with rosehead nails. The back brackets at the rear legs are considerably smaller. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, June 26, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., "Catalog of The Rhode Island Historical Society Furniture Collection," Rhode Island History 17, no. 1 (January 1958): 30–31, no. 39, ill.