Boston Bureau Table, ca. 1770
This has come down through six generations of my family, from Tiverton, Rhode Island. Our family folklore has always said that it was a Goddard knee-hole desk.
This is called a bureau table. People often mistakenly refer to them as knee-hole desks. It's not a desk. It was made as a dressing table, and this would have graced the bedroom of an extremely wealthy 18th-century patron. It was made about 1770 to '80, and we can tell that by the construction, by the patina of the wood, and also, it has the original brass hardware, which is helpful. So it is an 18th-century piece. It does have some originality issues. For example, the lobe is broken off of the drawer. Also, the rear feet are replacements-- they're a different form from the front.
And there's a support that's been added across the entire back. And also, this door, this recessed-cover door, appears to be an old replacement. It's not the same quality as the rest of the piece, the wood is a little bit different, the lock is a replacement, the hinges are not original. In terms of where the piece was made, you mentioned the Goddards of Newport, famous cabinetmakers. This is a block-front piece, the way the drawers are blocked, was popular in Newport. It was also popular in Boston. If we look at the details of the construction, this is not consistent with Newport. For example, Newport block-front bureau tables have a blade here above the top drawer, and then a large molding. This doesn't have that. They have exposed dovetails here. In Boston, they covered it with a strip of wood. And the blocking of the front edge, that's Boston. Newport, they tend to be straight across. The piece is made of mahogany, and the secondary wood is all white pine. If this were made in Newport, we would expect it to have poplar or chestnut secondary woods, so this piece was made in Boston, not in Newport. If it were a Goddard-Townsend piece, that would bring it to a different level. It's still a beautiful piece of furniture, but the value of what's called "brown furniture" in the industry, is way down from where it used to be. Particularly pieces that are not perfect. So I would say, in today's world, at auction, it would probably have a $5,000 to $7,000 estimate.
It's a very unusual piece of furniture. These are super-rare. It's just the condition really holds back...
...the value. If this were in perfect condition, even in today's market, it would bring at least $40,000 to $50,000 at auction.
Wow, great, thank you.
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