William & Mary Walnut and Walnut Veneer Escritoire or Fall-front Desk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, c. 1705-10, the upper section with flat-molded cornice concealing a torus drawer above a fall-front of two panels bordered by herringbone veneers and crossbanding, opening to a complex interior of compartments and drawers, many of which are removable to reveal additional secret drawers and compartments, set into the lower section of protruding mid-molding on the single arch-molded case of two conforming inlaid short drawers above two long drawers, and molded base on turned feet, old replaced Chippendale brasses, old refinish, (restoration), ht. 66, lower case wd. 39 3/4, case dp. 18 1/2 in.
Provenance: A handwritten note by George Gardner Bradford, written in 1912, states that the desk stood in the old Gardner Homestead on Washington Street in Warren, Rhode Island. The writer notes that a drawer marked "Nathan Child 1792" caused him to think that the desk came through the Child family.
Note: Mr. Eugene Bolles, by the time the note was written, had "pronounced the desk as of the period made... about 1700 - apparently of native wood by a skillful cabinetmaker who had apparently learned his trade in the old country, noting that there are only three or four specimens of a desk like this in the U.S."
Intrestingly the top long drawer in the base lined with a copy of the Rhode Island American newspaper, June 21, 1825, which includes a short article about the laying of the cornerstone at the Bunker Hill Monument, in time for the 50th anniversary of the battle.
secondary woods Eastern White Pine and Chestnut. Feet are laminated and therefore replacements. Backboards in lower section are replacements. Upper section with 5 inch wide full height replacement to backboard. Evidence of long-ago insect damage probably led to the need for replacement of backboards and feet. Evidence of minor insect activity to chestnut secondary wood mostly in lower section. Minor veneer loss and shrinkage cracks.
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