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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF6130

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

39 1/8 35 3/4 19 in. (99.38 90.81 48.26 cm)

Date

1727

Current location

The Rhode Island Historical Society

Geography

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

Medium

Walnut (primary); pine (secondary)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

"1727," inlaid on prospect door; “MIH,” in graphite, on proper-right exterior side of proper-right document drawer; “M I Hall,” in blue pencil on proper-left exterior side of proper-right document drawer and proper-right exterior side of secret drawer of proper-right document drawer; "M. I. Hall - 1923 - Wattin / Enghs Tr[illegible]n / Hester Hastings,” in blue pencil proper-left exterior side of secret drawer of proper-right document drawer; “I LOVE / M I Hall,” in graphite, on interior sides of secret drawer of proper-right document drawer; compass work, on proper-left exterior side of proper-left document drawer; illegible name and “1700,” in graphite, on proper-left exterior side of proper-left document drawer; “James Mussey 1737 the 7th mo / will in this drawer,” in ink on proper-left exterior side of proper-left document drawer; “Hester Stanhope Hastings 1928 the 9th mo,” in graphite, on proper-left exterior side of proper-left document drawer; “illegible name / and/ Nathaniel / Potter,” in ink on proper-right side of proper-left document drawer; “and Nathaniel / Potter [later],” in graphite, on proper-right side of proper-left document drawer; illegible incised inscription on proper-left exterior side of secret compartment in proper-left document drawer; illegible chalk, on proper-left exterior side of proper-right interior drawer; “//////,” in chalk on interior proper-right side of proper-right interior drawer; “V [underscore],” on exterior proper-right side of proper-right interior drawer; “IV,” in chalk, on proper-right exterior side of upper drawer to proper-right of prospect; series of vertical slashes, in chalk on proper-left exterior side of upper drawer to proper-right of prospect; “X,” in chalk, on exterior sides of lower drawer to proper-right of prospect; “X,” on exterior proper-right side of drawer below prospect; “X” and an arc, in chalk, on exterior proper-left side of drawer below prospect; series of vertical slashes on exterior proper-left side of lower drawer to proper-left of prospect; “V [pointing upward],” in chalk, on interior front of lower drawer to proper-left of prospect; triangle and arc, in chalk, on exterior proper-right side of lower drawer to proper-left of prospect; “X [underscore],” in chalk, on exterior sides of proper-left interior drawer; “S,” in chalk, on exterior back of upper exterior drawers; illegible graphite, on exterior back of lower exterior drawer; "D [possibly with a "W" or an "h" inside it] '25 / H '26 [within a star],” in graphite, on exterior backboards of case

Style

William and Mary

Provenance

Hester Hastings (1909–1997), Smithfield, Rhode Island, Providence, Rhode Island, and later Lynchburgh, Virginia; by bequest to Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, 1997

Associated names

Hester Hastings

Construction

The single-board top meets the two-board sides in half-blind dovetail joints (formerly concealed, probably by a double-bead molding) with finely cut, thick-necked pins of slightly varying configuration, with half-pins in front. The hinged lid consists of a large horizontal board tenoned into flanking vertical boards; the joints between them are not visible. The ends of the interior writing surface?s front rail are lapped over the case sides and covered by brackets nailed into them with brads. On the sloping edge of the proper right case side is a double-bead molding; the proper left side molding is absent. The case-back consists of two butt-jointed horizontal boards (a portion of the lower board is missing) with slightly chamfered side edges, fixed with a variety of nails into rabbets in the case sides and with a single rosehead nail into a rabbet in the case top. The single-board case bottom is half-blind dovetailed to the bottoms of the case sides. Attached to the outside of the front and side edges of the case bottom?s underside is a three-sided frame of flat boards. To the outside edges of their frame and to the bottom of the case sides is fixed with wood-filled fasteners a single-piece base molding. The dowels atop the turned feet pass through this frame and are visible within the case in the top face of the bottom board. The lid opens to an elaborate interior in the center of which is a prospect section including a hinged inlaid door opening to a compartmented interior; above is a shallow drawer with an arched front, below is a small flat-fronted drawer. This is flanked by pilaster-fronted document drawers, each containing an upper larger compartment and a lower smaller compartment. On either sides are banks of two valanced open compartments separated by simple straight uprights set into a double-concave-blocked platform above a conformingly shaped drawer and a straight-fronted drawer, all on a cove-molded base. This central section is contained by projecting scrolling uprights which enclose scroll-fronted compartments above segmentally concave-blocked small drawers. The interior drawers have kerf-marked fronts meeting their slightly shorter, slightly round-topped sides in dovetail joints with large tails and half-pins above and below. The flat single-board bottoms are perpendicular to the fronts, set into grooves in the fronts and glued to the undersides of the drawer sides and backs. The rear drawer-side tails extend beyond the plane of the drawer backs. The longitudinal front board of the writing surface is set into grooves in the case sides; to it are joined transverse boards also set into the case sides, whose inside edges are rabbeted to accommodate a sliding well. The front face of the well is a single horizontal board; below it is a rail, set into grooves in the case sides, which lacks its double-bead facing. The well has a single-board full-depth dust board into the bottom of which is half-dovetailed an upright divider between the two small exterior drawers. The upright has a double-bead facing and is both set into a groove in and tenoned through the drawer divider below. The smaller upper drawers have a medial support half-lapped to the drawer divider in front and fitted around the bottom of a short vertical batten set into a cutout in the full-depth dust board above. The vertical batten is flanked by rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The drawer dividers and stiles of the case all have double-bead facings which meet in V-joints. Within the case, supports for the full-width lower drawers are nailed with brads in recesses and chamfered ends to the case sides. Rectangular vertical glue blocks occupy the interior corners of the case. The two small and two long slightly kerf-marked drawer fronts meet their shorter arched and molded-top sides in dovetail joints having large thick-necked pins of varying configuration, with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The rear drawer-side tails extend beyond the plane of the drawer backs. The small- and long-drawer bottoms are perpendicular to the fronts, where they fit into grooves. The small-drawer bottoms are single-board, the longer-drawer bottoms have several boards, all nailed to the sides above with brads and covered by later glued-on runners. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, November 10, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.