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Photo: Courtesy private collection
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Slant-front desk

Object number



Maker Unknown


38 3/4 × 40 7/8 × 21 in. (98.43 × 103.82 × 53.34 cm)



Current location

Private Collection


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


Maple (primary); yellow poplar and pine (secondary)




Possibly "IM," incised, on underside; interlocked compass circles, incised, on underside; "A," "B," "C," and "D," in chalk, on exterior back and underside from top to bottom of each exterior drawer


Eliphalet Cobb (1740–1795), Fairfield, Connecticut; by descent to his daugther Mrs. Paul King Sheffield (née Mabel Thorp, 1768–1851), Southport, Connecticut; by descent to her son Joseph Earl Sheffield (1793–1882), New Haven, Connecticut; by descent to his granddaughter Mabel Thorp Boardman (1860–1946), Cleveland, in 1878; by descent to her grand-nephew Carl Boardman Cobb (1921–2011), Cleveland; thence by descent in his family

Associated names

Eliphalet Thorp
Mabel Thorp Sheffield
Mabel Thorp Boardman
Carl Boardman Cobb
Joseph Earl Sheffield


The hinged, molded lid consists of a large horizontal board tenoned into flanking narrow vertical boards. The single-board case bottom meets the case sides in dovetail joints having finely cut, narrow-necked pins. At the front of the case bottom?s underside are three rosehead nails joining it to the bottom rail above. In the case above, the front edge of the writing surface and the three drawer dividers below meet the case sides in half-blind dovetail joints; the bottom rail sits in grooves in the case sides. Behind the bottom rail within the case is a large horizontal rectangular glue bock. The lipped, thumb-molded, prominently kerf-marked, graduated drawer fronts meet their flush, slightly rounded, slightly scribe-lined drawer sides in dovetail joints having large pins of widely varying configuration, with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. Glue residue and later nails in the tails indicate old repairs. The grooves in the drawer fronts? large half-pins are ?unused,? as the single-board drawer bottoms, parallel to the front, are not full-width, and are not visible at the bottom of the drawer sides, which are full height. The bottoms are parallel to the fronts. They fit into grooves in the sides, where they are accompanied by rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The feet consist of rectangular vertical blocks, attached to the bottom board of the case and flanked by shaped horizontal glue blocks laid out with prominent scribe lines. Nailed with rosehead and cut nails to the underside of the bottom rail are straight-profiled ogee bracket feet which meet at the outside corners in dovetail joints having large, finely cut pins with half-pins above. The bracket feet are slightly reduced in height and now fitted with casters. The proper right rear foot?s vertical block is missing. The bracket feet are fixed to the rail which surrounds the case bottom with rosehead and cut nails. The rail itself and the base molding above it are fixed to the case bottom and case respectively with brads and wood-filled fasteners. The rear-facing brackets of the back feet are simple incurvate straight-profiled boards set into grooves in the outside-facing brackets. Photographs courtesy of a private collection.