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Desk and Bookcase

Crow, James
Place Made:
Mecklenburg County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
walnut –yellow pine
HOA: 86 3/4″; LOA: 44 1/8″; DOA: 22 3/4″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Desk and bookcase: Bookcase with ogee molded cornice with dentil base over two flat paneled doors; upon a slant-top desk with interior fitted with plain prospect door flanked by four letter compartments with arched brackets; these over smaller drawers–two at center ogee in shape and angled; outermost drawers are stepped; over large drawers set on straight line; four graduated drawers with original bail and rosette brasses, lipped edges; straight bracket feet; left interior drawer has the incised and punched initials of the owner as well as the name “James Crow” written in chalk.

CONSTRUCTION: The drawer blades of this piece are inserted from the back. Other distinctive construction details include the coved vertical foot blocks, lap joint of the front feet, and the practice of inserting the drawer runners in half-dovetail grooves.

GROUP: This desk-and-bookcase is one of fifteen case pieces that can be attributed to a group of craftsmen centered in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. This piece and two other desks in the group have writing compartments that are virtually identical. While the basic design of the interiors (with a long central drawer under the prospect door) is typical of eighteenth-century desks from the tidewater region, the piedmont interiors are stylistically earlier in their corbelled drawer ranks and blocked drawer fronts.

This desk and bookcase originally belonged to the Mecklenberg County silversmith, John Winckler (1730-1803). The small watch hooks attached to the pigeon-hole valences suggest that it may have been a fixture in his shop.
Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton