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Photo: Courtesy private collection; photo by Christopher Gardner
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Bureau table

Object number



Maker, formerly attributed to Edmund Townsend, American, 1736/7–1811
Maker James Goddard, Jr., born 1752


33 × 36 1/2 × 19 1/2 in. (83.82 × 92.71 × 49.53 cm)



Current location

Private Collection


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


Mahogany (primary); mahogany (shelves and bottom of cupboard); cedar (drawer linings and case back boards); yellow poplar (sides and backs of small drawers, dust board, backings of drawer dividers, kick bars, drawer stops, and drawer supports); pine (bottoms of small drawers, blocks at case front, and vertical blocks of feet); chestnut (sub-top, sides of cupboard, brackets of rear feet, and horizontal blocks of feet)


"James Goddard," in graphite, on interior bottom of proper right lower drawer


Illegible chalk [1?], on interior back of upper drawer; “1,” in graphite, on interior back and bottom of proper-right upper drawer; “2,” in graphite, on proper-right interior side [at front] of proper-right upper drawer; illegible graphite, on proper-left interior side [at front] of proper-right upper drawer; “2,” in graphite, on interior back, bottom, and sides of proper-right middle drawer; illegible graphite, on interior bottom of proper-right middle drawer; “3,” in graphite, on interior back and sides [at front corners] of proper-right lower drawer; “4,” in graphite, on interior back and sides [at front] of proper-left upper drawer; “5,” in graphite, on interior back, bottom, and sides [at front] of proper-left middle drawer; “6,” in graphite, on interior back and sides [at front] of proper-left lower drawer; “1” through “6,” in graphite, on tops of drawer dividers [proper-right top to proper-left bottom]


Ruth Gibbs (1748–1824) and Samuel Whitehorne (1744–1796), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to their son Samuel Whitehorne, Jr. (1779–1844), Newport, Rhode Island, by descent to his daughter, Mrs. William H. C. Bartlett (née Harriet Whitehorne, 1812–1901 or 1903), Pennsylvania, and New York, and her husband, Professor William H. C. Bartlett (1804–1893). Mrs. Margaret Rambout, Wyckoff, New Jersey. C. W. Lyon, Inc., New York; sold to Mr. and Mrs. Norvin H. Green (1893–1955), Tuxedo Park, New York, and Phoenix; consigned to Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, November 29–30, December 1–2, 1950, lot 663; sold to Jess S. Pavey, Birmingham, Michigan; sold to Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Henry Meyer, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 1950; consigned to Sotheby's, New York, January 20, 1996, lot 48. Leigh Keno American Antiuqes, New York, 1996; sold to a private collection, 1996

Associated names

Samuel Whitehorne
Ruth Gibbs Whitehorne
Adolph Henry Meyer
Margaret Rambout
Professor William H. C. Bartlett
Norvin H. Green
Harriet Bartlett
Jess S. Pavey
Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc.
Leigh Keno American Antiques
C. W. Lyon, Inc.
Samuel Whitehorne, Jr.


The rectangular, oblong, single-board top is molded on its front and side edges and square at its back edge. A beaded cove molding below is fixed to it and to the single-board case sides with wood filled fasteners. The top and its cove molding overhangs the case-back slightly; the cove molding returns upon itself. The case top is joined to the tops of the case sides by means of half-dovetail-shaped transverse keyways (filled-in) visible at its back edge. A single-board sub-top is fixed to the underside of the top with screws and rosehead nails. The case back consists of two half-lapped horizontal boards fixed with rosehead nails to the back edge of the sub-top, to rabbets in the case sides, to the back edge of the case bottom, and to the back edges of interior partitions. Within the case are five rectilinear longitudinal glue blocks behind the top rail. Tip bars are fixed to the case sides with rosehead nails. The joints between the top rail and the case sides are blind. The proper left end of the divider below the frieze drawer meets the case side in a rectangular joint; the proper right end is a half-blind dovetail joint. Most other drawer dividers and bottom rails meet the case sides and intermediate walls in half-blind dovetail joints. The exception is the proper left end of the proper right bottom rail, which has a blind joint with its vertical partition. The horizontal cockbeading is integral with the drawer dividers; the vertical cockbeading is glued in place. The bottom edge of the frieze drawer?s divider which spans the recessed section is not cockbeaded. Within the case are drawer supports fixed to the case sides and intermediate walls with rosehead nails, and vertical drawer stops similarly fixed to the case sides. The dustboard below the frieze drawer is not complete, there being rectangular openings above the rear portion of each upper small drawer. The portion of the drawer divider above the central cupboard is nailed from above into its partitions. The convex flanking carved shells of the blockfronted frieze drawer are applied; the concave center shell is carved from the solid. The inside faces of the frieze drawer and the convex-blocked graduated small drawers reflect their outside faces? configurations. The very slightly kerf-marked frieze drawer front meets its prominently scribe-marked slightly shorter arch-topped sides in dovetail joints with finely cut, narrow-necked pins, with half-pins above and below. Its multi-board drawer bottom, perpendicular to the front, is chamfered at the sides and at the front, where it fits into a groove. It also fits into grooves in the full-height drawer sides, where it is accompanied by full-depth runners glued in place alongside the bottoms of the drawer sides. The drawer bottom is nailed with brads to the bottom of the flat-topped drawer back. The small-drawers are constructed similarly to the frieze drawer, with more prominently scribe-marked drawer sides and single-board bottoms parallel to the fronts. The banks of graduated drawers flank a recessed cupboard having a cockbeaded surround with mitered corners, enclosing a single-board, concave-blocked, shell-carved door opening to fixed shelves with half-round front edges, set into grooves in the interior partitions. A single-piece base molding is fixed by wood-filled fasteners to the case. The single-board case bottom meets the case sides in dovetail joints having large, thick-necked pins of varying configuration, and is nailed with brads to the bottoms of the interior partitions and to the bottom rail at the recessed central cupboard. The concave-blocked skirt at the recessed center is nailed with brads to the base molding above. The feet consist of shaped vertical blocks attached directly to the case bottom, flanked by shaped horizontal blocks, the whole faced with ogee bracket feet, the front faces of the front feet convex-blocked and scroll-carved. The back-facing brackets of the rear feet are straight-profiled ogee-shaped boards set into grooves in the side-facing brackets, the rear faces of which have ogee profiles which project beyond the case back. Examined by P.E. Kane, J.N. Johnson, and E. Litke, July 16, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

See also


Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., The Arts and Crafts of Newport, Rhode Island, 1640–1820 (Newport, R.I.: Preservation Society of Newport County, 1954), 64, no. 38, detail, 203, Supplement 38, ill.
Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, The Notable American Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Norvin H. Green, sale cat. (November 29–December 2, 1950), 208, lot 663, ill.
Wendell D. Garrett, "Speculations on the Rhode Island Block-Front in 1928," Antiques 99, no. 6 (June 1971): 891, ill.
"The Editor's Attic: Americana Event," Antiques 58, no. 6 (December 1950): 490, 493, 495 ,497, 499, 501, 502–503, 505, 507, 509, ill.
Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana: The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Henry Meyer, sale cat. (January 20, 1996), lot 48, ill.
Sotheby's, New York, Property of the Goddard Family, sale cat. (January 22, 2005), 43, fig. 15.
Thomas H. Ormsbee, "Antique Furniture with Double Uses," American Collector 12, no.1 (February 1943): 12, ill.
"Midwest Collector's Choice," Antiques 79, no. 5 (May 1961): 476, ill.
F. Lewis Hinckley, A Directory of Antique Furniture: The Authentic Classification of European and American Designs for Professionals and Connoisseurs (New York: Crown Publishers, 1953), fig. 1068.
Luke Beckerdite, "The Early Furniture of Christopher and Job Townsend," American Furniture (2000): 27, fig. 45.
John T. Kirk, American Furniture: Understanding Styles, Construction, and Quality (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000), 154–157, fig. 188.
Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 281–284, 447, no. 52, fig. 1–2, 6.
Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana, sale cat. (January 17 and 20, 2019), 142, ill.