Lady’s Desk and Bookcase
Robert Walker label currently attached (nailed and glued) to left side of back; label is protected by 20th century frame which is screwed to case; original label location is visible on bottom of case.
TERM: The term “Lady’s Desk” is applied to writing cabinets with the fold-over writing surface.
MAKER: This example retains its original “ROBERT WALKER, CABINETMAKER,” label. The label refers to his shop at No. 53 Church Street, Charleston, which he occupied from 1812 until 1820. The label on this desk and bookcase is original to the piece but is not in its original location. It’s original site was on the bottom of the baseboards where there can still be observed its site with four nails for attachment (nails possibly later). The label is now located on the back of the piece.
Walker’s copy of THE LONDON BOOK OF PRICES (MESDA Acc. 4297) is inscribed to indicate he was in Cupar, Scotland (across from Edinburgh), in 1791-1793; he was in New York from October 1793-November 1795. The MESDA files place Walker in NYC by October 1793 and in Charleston by October or November 1795. Walker became a citizen of the United States in 1799. He is first listed as a cabinetmaker at 57 Broad Street in 1801; he was at 39 Church Street the same year. Also in that year he was admited into the St. Andrews Society. In 1810 he was listed at 19 Elliott Street and at 53 Church Street from 1812, the year he married Margaret Murdoch. He was, for a time, partners with Charles Watts.
Among his most interesting advertisements, one in 1805 lists card and Pembroke tables of satinwood; one in 1810 lists (among materials for sale) “Mahogany boards, Plank Veneers, Sattin Wood, Holly, best Dublin Glue….” Walker sold various woods, cabinet hardware, etc. throughout his life in Charleston.