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Desk with later bookcase

Object number



Maker, possibly by John Hambly


77 11/16 33 13/16 22 1/2 in. (197.4 85.9 57.1 cm) Lower case: 33 1/4 22 1/16 in. (84.5 56.1 cm) open: 36 1/4 in. (92 cm) Upper case: 30 1/2 11 in. (77.4 27.9 cm)


ca. 1780 and ca. 1850

Current location

Yale University Art Gallery


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


Eastern white pine; finials, probably cottonwood; one replaced glue block, mahogany


Written in pencil on the outside of the back of the desk is "John Hambly / Portsmouth RI / for Mr [?] M[?] / ring [?]." "Back" is written in pencil on the inside of the back and on the inside of the back of the top case drawer.


According to tradition, this object was found in an old church in New London, Conn., by dealer Florian Papp, New York, NY, who sold it in 1928 to Francis P. Garvan, New York, NY. Gift in 1930 to YUAG.

Associated names

Florian Papp


The inscription on the back of this desk would lead one to believe that it was made by a John Hambly of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Unfortunetly, the greater part of the inscription, which was discovered only recently, remains undeciphered, refusing to yield to infrared photography, ultraviolet light, magnification, and other attempts to understand its meaning. Various documents record the presence of the Hambly family in Portsmouth and Tiverton, Rhode Island, in the eighteenth centry. A John Hambly was born in Portsmouth in 1745, the son of Benjamin Hambly and his first wife, Mary (Burrington) Hambly, who were married in 1737, and it may be that this man is connected with the desk. The Gothic revival style bookcase, clearly later, was with the desk when it was acquired by Francis P. Garvan. For footnotes see: American Case Furniture by Gerald W.R. Ward


Gerald W. R. Ward, American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1988), 370–71, no. 191, ill.