COLLECTION: Furniture

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Work Table

1820-1840
Origin: England, Continental Europe, or America
OH: 28"; OW: 18 1/4"; OD: 14 5/16"
Mahogany, white oak, and brass
Gift of Seatlantic Fund
Acc. No. 1996.CG.340
Appearance: Rectangular topped work table with two drawers, top drawer false, supported by two lyre shaped supports on a base with rounded ends and incurving front and rear faces, on four ball feet; top lifts to reveal compartmentalized interior; brass escutcheons on drawer fronts; brass gadrooned edge around base and sides of table top.

Construction: On the table, the back is dovetailed to the sides as is the front of the false drawer compartment. Vertical corner blocks are glued to the sides and back under the bottom of the compartment as well as to the sides at the front corners. (The proper left rear corner block is missing.) Drawer guides are glued to the sides and compartment bottom between the corner blocks and flush with them. The drawer supports are glued to the sides and corner blocks (no other original fasteners/joints are visible). The proper left guide is a replacement and is nailed to the side from the inside of the support. The bottom edges of the supports and back are rabbeted to perhaps receive a work bag frame (possible explanation below). There are five small nail holes on the underside of the drawer support on the proper right side. The two-board top with end battens is joined to the box with butt hinges inset in the top and back.

The top compartment’s fixed partitions are set in dados in the front, sides and each other. Removable shaped dividers are set in dados in the back and rear-most partition and form a row of small adjustable sized compartments. All visible surfaces of the box are mahogany veneered over white oak except for the bottom and partitions which are mahogany. Six ¼” holes, ½” to 1” deep are drilled in the upper edge of the sides, 1 ½” apart. A small vertical hole in the center of the top of the back extends through and exits at the bottom of the back.

The drawer is of dovetail construction with the bottom set in dados in the front and sides, and nailed from the underside to the back. Compartment dividers are set in dados in the front, back, side and each other. The small compartment dividers along the proper left side are removable (one is missing), creating space appropriate for ink wells. The top edge of the front to back divider and proper right side are rabbeted apparently to receive a now missing interior cover, perhaps a writing surface. The drawer is entirely mahogany with the front exterior surface mahogany veneered.

The brass gadrooned edge of the table and drawer has integral tabs that are inset and screwed to the underside of the lower edges of the table and drawer. To accommodate the brass edge on the drawer, a mahogany strip the same width and depth as the brass edge has been glued to the bottom edge of the drawer. (It is possible that this strip was added later, that the brass edge that is now part of the drawer was originally the leading edge of the work bag frame, and that strips were nailed to the underside of the rabbeted drawer supports to form dados for a sliding work bag frame. If this were the case, the small hole in the center of the back would hold a pin to lock the work bag in the closed position.)

The frame of the base is comprised of incurving front and back rails tenoned to rounded side rails that are glued under a two board platform with all exposed surfaces mahogany veneered. Ball feet are round tenoned to the underside of the frame.

The upper ends of the two lyre shaped mahogany supports are screwed to the underside of the sides with the base of the lyres set in brass shoes and tenoned to the base. Five mahogany spokes are inset in brass plates that are nailed to central plinths in the two lyres. The spokes run up through a square brass rod that extends through the upper arms of the lyres and are held in place with brass acorn finials at each end.
Inscription(s):Pencil inscription inside proper left case side at level of drawer, "1853 m[eu or u]"