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Slant-front desk

Object number



Maker, possibly by Thomas Goddard, 1765–1858


41 38 15/16 20 in. (104.14 98.9 50.8 cm)



Current location


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


Cherry (primary); cherry (front of bottom board); chestnut (vertical brace, back boards, board under desk interior, backs of three lower exterior drawers); cottonwood (linings of interior and exterior drawers [except as noted], back of bottom board); pine (glue blocks on feet and at front lower rail); yellow poplar (drawer supports)




"N1" through "N 3," in graphite, on top surface at center of drawer dividers; "A" through "D," in graphite at center of interior backs and interior sides and fronts at front corners on exterior drawers; "Cherry - Stained Mahogany - / original Brasses / Evidently made by Thomas Goddard / Son of John Goddard, early 1800 / Belonged to Wm. J. Ailman and / use by him in his Office, Bowen's Wharf.," in typescript, on loose white paper in desk interior; "Frederic Ailman," in graphite, on proper right exterior side of interior drawer to proper right of prospect door; "X," incised on some exterior drawers interior sides and backs; "L," in chalk, on proper right loper near stop; "R," in chalk, on proper left loper near stop; illegible graphite on interior bottom at front


Frederick Ailman, Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his son William H. Ailman (1802–1873), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to the Coggeshall family, Newport, Rhode Island; consigned to Gustave J. S. White, Inc., February 2017

Associated names

Coggeshall family
Frederick Ailman
William H. Ailman
Gustave J. S. White, Inc.


The single-board top meets the two-board case sides in dovetail joints having narrow-necked, finely cut pins, with half-pins in front. The hinged, molded lid consists of a large horizontal board tenoned into flanking narrow vertical boards; the joints between them are visible at the top and bottom of the lid. The interior centers a plain prospect door opening to valanced pigeonholes separated by a scrolling upright over a concave-blocked drawer, flanked by beaded stiles and by banks of valanced pigeonholes and scrolling uprights over straight-fronted drawers, then flanked by valanced small drawers over pigeonholes and straight-front small drawers, the whole on a cove-molded base. The small-drawers? slightly kerf-marked fronts meet their flush, slightly scribe-marked sides, chamfered in front, flat in back, in dovetail joints having finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The single-board drawer bottoms are flat, perpendicular to the front and glued into rabbets in the elements above. The smaller valanced drawers are similarly configured. The front edge of the writing surface and the drawer dividers below meet the case sides in dovetail joints; the uprights beside the molded loper-fronts and the bottom rail are set into grooves. The three half-lapped horizontal backboards are slightly chamfered at the top and sides, where they are fixed with rosehead and other nails into rabbets in the case top and sides. The bottom backboard is also nailed directly into the rear edge of the two-board case bottom, which meets the case sides in dovetail joints having finely cut, narrow-necked pins. At the midpoint of the case is a vertical batten fixed with rosehead nails from outside to the backboards; its bottom edge is notched into the rear of the case bottom. Drawer supports, with small chamfers at the back, are fixed with rosehead nails to the case sides. Upper-drawer and loper supports are half-lapped to the drawer divider and nailed to the case sides in large, slightly incurvate chamfers at the back. There are two large horizontal glue blocks behind the case?s bottom rail. The four lipped, thumb-molded, graduated, prominently kerf-marked long-drawer fronts meet their flush, sometimes flat, sometimes chamfered, nearly flush, prominently scribe-lined drawer sides in dovetail joints having finely cut, narrow-necked pins of slightly varying configuration, with half-pins above and below. The two-board drawer bottoms, parallel to the front, are set into grooves in the front and in the full-height sides, where they are accompanied by full-length glue-block/runners. The bottoms are fixed with cut nails to the flat-topped drawer-backs. The drawer-side tops are chamfered at the back. The single-piece base molding is fixed to the case sides, bottom rail, and case bottom with wood-filled fasteners. The feet consist of rectangular vertical blocks fixed directly to the case bottom flanked by shaped horizontal blocks and faced with ogee bracket feet. The rear-faces of the back feet are simple straight-profiled ogee brakes set into grooves in the back of the side-facing ogee brackets, which do not project beyond the plane of the case above. Examined by P.E. Kane, March 16, 2017; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.