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Photo: Courtesy Newport Historical Society, R.I., inv. no. 78.3; photo by Rhode Island Furniture Archive
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Desk and bookcase


Object number

RIF5966

Maker

Maker, possibly by Job Townsend, Jr., 1726?1778

Dimensions

38 1/2 23 1/4 in. (97.79 59.06 cm)

Date

probably 1751

Current location

Newport Historical Society

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); mahogany (interior desk drawer linings); pine (some stops on interior desk drawer backs, board under desk interior, exterior drawer bottoms, drawer divider backs, blocks behind lopers, blocks at case front, one of horizontal braces at back of bookcase, and backboards of desk, bookcase, and bonnet); chestnut (some stops on interior desk drawer backs, one of horizontal braces at back of bookcase, and rear foot brackets); yellow poplar (sides and backs of exterior drawers, vertical brace at back of desk, supports for lopers, and drawer supports)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Interior desk drawers: “1,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-right top drawer; “2,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-right center drawer; “3,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-right lower drawer; “4,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-right lower lone drawer; “5,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-right lower prospect drawer; “6,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-right middle prospect drawer; “7,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-right upper prospect drawer; “8,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-left lower lone drawer; “9,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-left lower drawer; “10,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-left middle drawer; “11,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-left lower drawer; “1” through “6,” in chalk, on exterior bottom of valance drawers (proper-right to proper-left); “6,” in graphite, on interior back of valance drawer with chalk “1;” “5,” in graphite, on interior back of valance drawer with chalk “3;” “2,” in graphite, on interior back of valance drawer with chalk “4;” “4[?],” in graphite, on interior back of valance drawer with chalk “6.” Exterior drawers: “////,” incised on exterior bottom of upper drawer; “////X [lumber marks],” incised on exterior back of bottom drawer

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Matthew Cozzens (1728–1799), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his grandson William Cole Cozzens (1811–1876), Newport, Rhode Island; possibly by descent to his son Henry William Cozzens (1836–1935), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his grandson James Gould Cozzens (1903–1978), Lambertville, New Jersey and Stuart, Florida; given to the Newport Historical Society, Rhode Island, 1978

Associated names

Matthew Cozzens
William Cole Cozzens
Henry William Cozzens
James Gould Cozzens

Construction

The roof of the detachable pediment consists of slender boards, shaped to align with the double-serpentine outline of the closed pediment, and nailed with brads to the backboard and scrollboard, and to vertical bracing within the pediment. The backboard is a single piece. Fixed to it with brads and wood-filled fasteners is a single-piece beaded-cove crown molding. The applied, thumb-molded scrollboard plaques in front center an urnform finial on a slender rectangular block. The top board of the bookcase section is dovetailed to the single-board case sides. At the top of the proper right bookcase section case side, just below the bottom of the detachable pediment?s crown molding is a horizontal shadow line and nail holes. The bookcase section case-back contains multiple horizontal half-lapped boards nailed with brads into rabbets in the case sides. Inside the bookcase, fixed in grooves in the case sides are two shelves, between which are scrolling dividers set into V-shaped grooves in the shelves and an upper, shorter shelf. The hinged doors consist of thumb-molded rails tenoned into stiles without wood pins and enclosing single-board panels which are flat inside and fielded outside. The upper and lower rail-ends are visible through the outside edge of each door?s inside stile. The inside face of the proper right door is missing its closing bolt hardware. There are two straight-fronted candleslides below (hardware missing). On the top board of the desk section are thin transverse blocks butted to a quarter-round molding within which the bookcase sits. The hinged, lipped, thumb-molded lid consists of three pieces ? one large horizontal board tenoned into two flanking narrow vertical boards. The joints between them are visible at the bottom of the lid when it is closed. It opens to a concave-blocked, shell-carved prospect door concealing three graduated concave-blocked small drawers, flanked by beaded stiles. On either side are three quarter-spherically concave-blocked valance drawers over three open compartments separated by scrolling uprights, a single convex-blocked small drawer below. The valance-drawer supports are set in grooves in the upright?s sides. At either end are three concave-blocked small drawers, the upper ones shell-carved, the whole above a blocked and molded base. Glued to the outside of some small drawers are horizontal stops; some are missing. The writing surface contains a well with a thumb-molded edge and sliding cover with a carved crescent-moon-shaped finger pull. The kerf-marked fronts of the interior drawers meet their slightly shorter rounded-top sides in dovetail joints having finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and below. The larger-drawer bottoms are parallel to the fronts; the valance-drawer bottoms are perpendicular, glued as well as nailed with brads to the elements above. The tops of the larger-drawer sides are chamfered at their outside rear corners, aligning with the chamfered back of the drawer-back tops. In the case below, the bottom rail is set in grooves in the two-board case sides. Behind it are rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The vertical dividers beside the thumb-molded lopers meet their neighboring elements in blind joints. The drawer dividers are half-blind dovetailed to the case sides. Aligning with them are full-depth drawer supports nailed to the case sides with brads. Between them, glued into the rear corners of the case, are vertical rectangular drawer stops. A wide vertical batten is located in the middle of the caseback interior, nailed with brads into the case?s backboards. A horizontal batten in front of the vertical one serves as stop for the lopers and a ledger for the transverse boards of the writing surface above. The case back consists of horizontal half-lapped boards, fixed with rosehead and other nails into rabbets in the lower-case sides and directly into the vertical batten within, and into the bottom board. The fronts of the kerf-marked, lipped, thumb-molded and graduated long drawers meet their slightly shorter drawer fronts (some with flat and some with slightly rounded tops) in dovetail joints, having finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and below. Some tails are reinforced with brads. Shadows and holes in the front inside corners of the upper drawer indicate the former presence of a sliding wood lock mechanism. The two-board drawer bottoms are parallel to the fronts and chamfered at the front and sides, fitting into grooves in the bottom of the drawer front and full-depth drawer sides. The narrow board at the back of the drawer bottom is nailed with brads to the drawer back. The outside rear corner of the drawer-side tops are chamfered to align with the chamfered drawer-back tops. The back faces of the rear feet are straight ogee brackets. The back edge of the rear feet?s side faces project beyond the case back in an ogee profile. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, March 25, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Notes

The desk and bookcase may be the one made for Matthew Cozzens (1728–1799) by Job Townsend, Jr., as recorded in Townsend's account book at the Newport Historical Society.

Bibliography

"Newport Historical Society Desks in 'A Writer's Dozen' Exhibition," http://www.antiques and the arts.com/news/201308/13 newport-historical (accessed April 1, 2014) (accessed August 13, 2013).