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Photo: Courtesy Newport Historical Society, R.I., inv. no. 59.1.5; photo by Rhode Island Furniture Archive
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Slant-front desk

Object number



Maker Unknown


41 1/2 36 20 in. (105.41 91.44 50.8 cm)



Current location

Newport Historical Society


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


Maple (primary); yellow poplar (sides and backs of interior drawers); chestnut (bottoms of interior drawers, blocks at case front, and supports for lower exterior drawer); pine (sides of prospect, linings of pigeon holes, supports for upper three exterior drawers, vertical brace at back of case, and back and bottom boards of case)




“1” through “5,” in graphite, on center interior backs and front interior sides of lower interior desk drawers [from proper-right to proper-left]; “1” through “3,” in graphite, on interior backs of center interior desk drawers [from top to bottom]; “A” through “D,” in graphite, on interior backs of exterior drawers [top to bottom]; “1” through “4,” in graphite, in front corners of interior proper-right sides of exterior drawers [top to bottom]; “4,” in graphite, of interior front corner of proper-left side of bottom exterior drawer; “1,” in graphite, on proper-right vertical element on inside of loper; “2,” in graphite, on proper-left vertical element on inside of loper


Ruth B. Franklin (1905–1988), Coventry, Rhode Island, and Tucson, Arizona ; given to the Newport Historical Society, Rhode Island, 1959

Associated names

Ruth B. Franklin


The single-board top is half-blind dovetailed to the single-board case top, with large half-pins in front. The case back consists of three horizontal half-lapped boards with chamfered ends (the upper board has a chamfered top), which fit into grooves in the case sides and top. In the back of the case top and the proper-right case side are grooves into which elements of the desk interior are set. Since the upper part of the proper left case side is replaced, its grooves are missing. The bottom case-back board is fixed with rosehead and other nails to the case bottom. There are two nails, one in the bottom of the upper and one in the top of the middle back boards, which secure them to the vertical batten at the midpoint of the case interior. The hinged lipped, and thumb-molded lid is assembled in the "breadboard" manner, having a large, horizontal board flanked by two vertical boards. The joints between them are visible at the front, when the desk is open. The large board is tenoned to the small ones; at the back, when the desk is closed, the boards are half-lapped. The interior contains a prospect section with three reverse-graduated small drawers flanked by beaded vertical dividers. Beyond these are four valanced open compartments, with scalloped and straight dividers, over small drawers, the whole above a molded base. The interior drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter flat-topped drawer sides in dovetail joints having finely cut pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The drawer sides and back are full depth; the drawer bottoms, parallel to the fronts, are glued into rabbets in the elements above. There are small patches in the writing surface and hinged lid indicating the former presence of a third, smaller, pair of hinges. In the case below, the top rail, loper vertical dividers, and drawer dividers are half-blind dovetailed to the case sides. The bottom rail fits into grooves in the case sides; there are two long rectangular glue blocks behind it. Behind the dividers are full-depth drawer supports nailed with brads to the case sides. The lipped, thumb-molded and graduated long drawers have slightly shorter flat-topped drawer sides and single-board drawer bottoms parallel to the fronts. An ogee-shaped base molding is nailed with brads into the bottom of the case sides and the bottom rail. The feet consist of shaped vertical blocks attached directly to the case bottom, flanked by shaped horizontal blocks attached to the top of the vertical block and to the bottom board of the case, the whole faced with ogee bracket faces. The vertical blocks of the front feet are tapered at the bottom, following the outline of the bracket faces. The vertical blocks of the rear feet are missing, their back horizontal blocks are rectangular with chamfered ends, and the back brackets of the rear feet are simple straight trapezoids. The back edge of the side ogee bracket of the rear feet has an ogee profile. The trapezoidal back brackets bear shadows of vertical glue blocks and small nails, now missing. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, March 25, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.


Joseph K. Ott, Daniel Snydacker, and Deborah Walker, "Masterpieces of Simplicity: Newport Desks and Chairs, 1740–1780," Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society 60 (Fall II 1987): 180, ill.
Adams Taylor, "A Writer's Dozen: Desks from the Collection of the Newport Historical Society," Newport History 83, no. 270 (Spring 2014): 54, ill.