Collections › MESDA Collection › Desk


Cameron, Charles C.
Place Made:
Shepherdstown West Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany –rosewood –walnut –yellow pine
HOA 46 3/8; WOA 39 1/4; DOA 22 1/2
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Cylinder-top desk, the interior fitted with prospect door with elongated ivory inlaid keyhole surround flanked by sections of three letter compartments over two tiers of drawers with brass knobs, desk is above four graduated drawers decorated with rosewood crossbanding and elongated diamond inlay keyhole surrounds and brass pulls; the top drawer is fitted with a felt-covered hinged writing board, the whole mounted upon scalloped base with splayed “French” feet. The cylinder opens upward when the top drawer is opened; at its back the top drawer is attached to tambour strips set into circular grooves, and, in turn to the top of the cylinder.

INSCRIPTION: Inscribed in ink on inside bottom of the top exterior drawer (beneath hinged writing surface), “Made by Charles C. Cameron and Co./ No. 2”.

MAKER: Little is known of Charles C. Cameron; however, a chest of drawers in the Wintertur photo collection is inscribed “Charles P. [C?] Cameron Sheperdstown Sept 27 1808” which suggests that he was working in Shepherdstown, Virginia (now West Virginia), by 1808. Ron Hurst, curator of furniture at Colonial Williamsburg, has located Cameron in the 1820 census from that area but not the 1810 census. Research about Cameron is on-going.

RELATED OBJECTS: This piece exhibits several construction details shared by a desk and bookcase attributed to Cameron which is in the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation collection. These characteristics include:

drawer bottoms are flush nailed at back into chiseled out countersunk holes

drawers are supported on frames that consist of front and rear blades that are tenoned into case sides and mortised to receive tenoned in side members; rear blades are rabbeted at either end, but rabbet disappears toward the center of blade.

flared “French” bracket feet are formed by sawing into the foot from the bottom and fitting in a shaped wedge.

Both objects also feature uncommonly thick drawer blades and the unusual combination of a cherry carcass with mahogany-veneered drawer fronts. A cylinder desk ‘Made by / Charles C. Cameron and Co. / No. 2’ also displays closely related feet, aprons, and drawer blades. The case drawers of all three pieces rest on open four-part frames, and the rear edges of the secretary and the desk are secured with rose-head nails set into gouged holes. For more information see: (Hurst and Prown, 474-476, fig. 143.2.

WOODS: mahogany and rosewood veneer; walnut and yellow pine secondary woods.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund