Desk and Bookcase
In 2013 this desk and bookcase underwent significant study to better understand its original appearance and origins. A close analysis of its quirky construction suggests that it began in the workshop as a conventional London-style early eighteenth-century flat-top desk and bookcase. At some point, well into its construction, the plan changed and the bookcase was re-worked to have a pitched pediment. Though the current pediment is conjectural, its form is based on London, Philadelphia, and architectural pediments of the period.
MAKER: Jacob Andrew Minitree, the craftsmen likely responsible for this desk and bookcase, was born about 1705 in Williamsburg, Virginia. His father, David Minitree (d. 1712), was a Huguenot refugee and a blacksmith who is documented as working on the Virginia Capitol building in 1710. Jacob was likely apprenticed to the builder-joiner Lewis Delony. Delony is recorded working at Bruton Parish Church and Lunenburg County courthouse where he made “a press for the safekeeping and preservation of the law books, papers, and records.” About 1730 Minitree left the Williamsburg area for Charles County, Maryland. Perhaps his removal to Maryland coincided with the arrival of British-trained cabinetmaker Peter Scott.
When Minitree died in 1761 his inventory and will reference a curious number of looking glasses, tools for cutting looking glasses, and hardware for desks and bookcases. Minitree was also geographically close to Samuel Hanson, who was likely the first owner of this piece.