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Photo: Courtesy Newport Historical Society, R.I., inv. no. W1974.75.1; photo by Rhode Island Furniture Archive
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Slant-front desk

Object number



Maker Unknown


35 36 in. (88.9 91.44 cm)



Current location

Newport Historical Society


Probably made in Middletown, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)


Maple (primary); maple (lopers, front bottom board of desk interior and proper-left rear foot bracket); yellow poplar (fronts, sides, and backs of interior drawers, sides and backs of exterior drawers, rear bottom board of desk interior, interior compartment dividers, and drawer supports); pine (bottoms of interior and exterior drawers and case back and bottom); chestnut (proper left rear foot bracket)




Interior drawers: “1” through “5,” in chalk, on interior drawer backs [proper-right to proper-left]; one notch, on upper front corners of sides of drawers numbered “1” and “2;” two notches, on upper front corners of sides of drawers numbered “3” and “5." Exterior drawers: “2,” in chalk, on interior bottom of second drawer from top; “3,” in chalk, on interior bottom of third drawer from top; “4,” in chalk, on interior bottom of lower drawer; “X,” in chalk, in center interior backs of drawers marked “2” through “4”


Peleg Peckham (1710–1765), Middletown, Rhode Island; by descent to his son Thomas Peckham (1747–1825), Middletown and Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his son Thomas Peckham (1783–1843), Middletown and Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his daughters Eliza Ann Peckham (1811–1899) and Sarah Wardwell Peckham (1820–1911), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to their nephew Stephen Farnham Peckham (1839–1918), Providence, Rhode Island; given in his memory to the Newport Historical Society, Rhode Island, 1942

Associated names

Peleg Peckham
Thomas Peckham
Thomas Peckham
Eliza Ann Peckham
Sarah Wardwell Peckham
Stephen Farnum Peckham


The single-board top is blind-dovetailed to the multi-board case sides. The lid is assembled in the "breadboard" manner, having one large horizontal board tenoned into two narrow vertical boards, the whole lipped and thumb-molded. The joints are visible at both sides of the lid, which swings open by means of two pairs of twice-screwed wrought-iron hinges, and is supported by full-height lopers with thumb-molded fronts. The interior contains a prospect section with two open compartments separated by a scrolling upright above a single drawer, flanked by beaded vertical dividers, in turn flanked by banks of three open compartments separated by scrolling uprights above single drawers, all above a molded base. In the board behind the molding under the flanking small drawers is a single rosehead nail. At either extremity are outthrust small drawers with open compartments and a scrolling, incurvate divider and shelf. The interior drawer fronts meet their flat-topped sides, of which they are slightly proud, in dovetail joints, having large, thick-necked pins with large half-pins above and small half-pins with rabbets below. The single-board drawer bottoms, perpendicular to the fronts, are glued into rabbets in the elements above. In the case below, the top rail is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides, the loper vertical dividers are set into grooves in their neighboring members, and the drawer dividers meet the case sides in half-dovetail joints. The bottom rail meets the case sides in a blind joint. Behind the drawer dividers are supports with chamfered ends. The case back consists of horizontal half-lapped boards, nailed into rabbets in the case top and sides. The graduated, lipped, thumb-molded drawer fronts meet their flat-topped drawer sides, of which they are slightly proud, in dovetail joints with large, thick-necked pins, with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The two-board full-width drawer bottoms are chamfered at the sides and front. They fit into grooves in the drawer front, are secured to the drawer sides above beneath full-depth drawer runners, and nailed with brads to the drawer backs above. A base molding is attached to the case bottom with brads and wood-filled fasteners. The back faces of the rear bracket feet are straight, and slightly incurvate. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, March 24, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.


Adams Taylor, "A Writer's Dozen: Desks from the Collection of the Newport Historical Society," Newport History 83, no. 270 (Spring 2014): 44, ill.