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Desk and Bookcase

Place Made:
Iredell County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
cherry –yellow pine –oak
HOA: 97; WOA: 49 1/2; DOA: 23
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Desk and bookcase: Cornice of the bookcase forms a fan-like ornament outlined by the cornice molding and decorated with checkerboard, barber-pole, and encircled fylfot inlaid patterns; two glass doors open on interior of three shelves (bottom shelf is bottom of bookcase) with original orange-red paint; case sits within an applied molding on top of the desk; desk interior is not decorated except for an arched inlay on the prospect door, which opens into various hidden compartments; on either side of the prospect are sets of two-tiered drawers with two pigeon holes above; three large bottom drawers, two flanking small dawers acting as fallboard supports, and the fallboard are ornamented with similar inlays as the bookcase; quarter columns with bases and capitals on top and bottom edges of case; ogee bracket feet.

STYLE: This massive piece shows strong regional influence as well as the influence of outside styles. The unusual pediment and squarish proportions are reminiscent of both German and Dutch Baroque furniture, but the arrangement of the interior of the desk and the use of slender quarter columns are in the Delaware Valley tradition. The rural translation of urban styles is revealed in various details, however. For example, both the bases and the capitals of the columns are the same turning, and the upper rails of the bookcase doors are ponderously wide and are not the same length. The use of small drawers as fallboard supports was favored in the counties west of Philadelphia. The exaggerated responds of the ogee feet are typical of furniture made in the Catawba River Valley. (RAES)

GROUP: Two other extant desks and bookcases are presumably by the same cabinetmaker. One has an identical cornice, but the bookcase doors are finished with stiles and rails shaped in a series of cyma curves, and the base of the desk is finished in the Neoclassical manner with French feet. Like MESDA’s desk and bookcase, this second example has an Iredell County history. The third example has a more delicate pediment and French feet. MESDA’s example relates to pieces from the James Gheen shop in neighboring Rowan County in that it has extended glueblocks supporting the case, as do those made by Gheen.

WOODS: Cherry with secondary woods of yellow pine, oak, and cherry.

This desk and bookcase descended from an Iredell County (later Alexander County) planter, William Copeland Linney, whose will was probated in 1821.
Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund