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Photo: Courtesy Rhode Island Furniture Archive
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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF6427

Maker

Maker, possibly by Pardon Davis, 1741?1802

Dimensions

42 × 37 3/4 × 18 5/8 in. (106.68 × 95.89 × 47.31 cm)

Date

1792

Current location

Private collection

Geography

Possibly made in Tiverton, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Maple (primary); chestnut (drawer linings, back board, blocks); oak (bottom boards)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Loop and forward slash, in graphite, exterior back of top drawer; loop and "2," in graphite, and mathematical calculations on exterior back second drawer; "C[?]" and double loop, in graphite, on exterior back of third drawer; "Davis," in graphite, on exterior back of bottom drawer; "A," in graphite, on three exterior sides of proper right long interior drawer; "B," in graphite, on exterior back and one side of proper left long interior drawer; "A," in graphite, on exterior back of center interior drawer; illegible script, possibly "Ma[r or i?] /1792 / 17," in chalk on exterior back board

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Possibly Nelson Miller (1754–1840), Warren and Bristol, Rhode Island; by descent to his son James Miller (1795–1846), Bristol, Rhode Island; by descent to his son Augustus Nelson Miller (1816–1901), Bristol, Rhode Island; by descent to his daughter Mrs. Fielding Lewis Williams (née Abby Louisa Miller, 1842–1927), Bristol, Rhode Island; by descent to her daughter Mrs. William Frederick Williams (née Mildred Lewis Williams, 1867–1928), Bristol, Rhode Island; by descent to her husband Dr. William Frederick Williams (1859–1931), Bristol, Rhode Island; by descent to his son William Frederick Williams, Jr. (1896–1959), Bristol and Providence, Rhode Island; by descent in his family

Associated names

Nelson Miller
James Miller
Augustus Nelson Miller
Abby Louisa Miller Williams
Mildred Lewis Williams Williams
Dr. William Frederick Williams
William Frederick Williams, Jr.

Construction

The single-board top meets the two-board case sides in dovetail joints having thick-necked pins of slightly carrying configuration, with half-pins in front. The hinged, molded lid consists of a large, horizontal board (a later horizontal strip at its bottom indicates an old repair) tenoned into narrow vertical ?breadboard? ends. The interior centers a small prospect drawer flanked by valanced document compartments above two wider drawers, on a molded base. The interior-drawer fronts, whose top edges are canted slightly inward, meet their somewhat shorter, slightly arched-top, full-depth sides in dovetail joints having pins of widely varying configuration, with half-pins above. The single-board case bottoms are chamfered at the front and sides, fitting into grooves, and are fixed with cut nails to the bottom of the drawer backs. The case back consists of three half-lapped horizontal boards, slightly chamfered at their sides, nailed with brads into rabbets in the case top and sides, and directly to the case bottom, which meets the case sides in dovetail joints with large, thick-necked pins. The front edge of the writing surface is dovetailed to the case sides, the uprights which divide the lopers from the upper drawer are set in grooves, the drawer dividers below are half-dovetailed to the case sides, and the bottom rail is set in grooves. The front faces of the case sides are scribe-lined. The thumb-molded, lipped, graduated, kerf-marked long-drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, beaded-top sides in dovetail joints having thick-necked pins of varying configuration, with half-pins above and below. The drawer sides, formerly full-depth, are now fitted with runners. The single-board drawer bottoms are parallel to the fronts and chamfered at the fronts and sides, where they fit into grooves, and are fixed with cut nails to the bottoms of the flat-topped drawer backs. Later drawer supports are nailed to the case sides. There are large horizontal rectangular glue blocks behind the case?s bottom rail. The base consists of three pieces ? each consisting of integral base molding and two bracket feet, mitered at the front corners and fixed to the bottom of the case and to each other with wood-filled fasteners. Behind the brackets, the feet consist of shaped horizontal and vertical blocks, the latter nailed to the case bottom. The rear-facing back feet are simple trapezoidal brackets, nailed also to the case bottom. Shadows on the back of these brackets indicate the former presence of vertical glue blocks. Examined by P.E. Kane and E. Litke, July 20, 2017; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.