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Early 19th Century Vermont Federal Butler's Desk in Bird's Eye Maple & Mahogany

Early 19th Century Vermont Federal Butler's Desk in Bird's Eye Maple & Mahogany

Regular price $5,875.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $5,875.00 USD
Sale Sold out

With our absolute highest compliments Bay Colony Antiques takes the utmost pleasure in offering one of the finest early American butler's desks available anywhere. For the last three generations our firm has pursued quality antiques produced in the early American period particularly focused on the treasured history of New England. We have watched markets rise and fall with respect to all aspects of antiques and historical design and with that insight we have made our focus regional early American furniture and decorative arts as they have proven to be the best way to stage a home while also making a secure investment that will appreciate as time goes on. American heirloom antiques are perhaps the best way to provide the next generation with valuable assets while also culturally enriching your family with beautiful and historic treasures. Antiques that have a strong regional influence in an area where homes and land remain in high demand are among the very best investments that can be made as future demand is all but assured as scarcity increases over time.

It is with that background we introduced this absolute treasure from the storied history of the state of Vermont. The earliest craftsmen settled the state towards the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century as population centers grew and demand for their trades were in higher demand. Many brought influences from Western Massachusetts up through the Connecticut River Valley region ultimately settling Eastern Vermont and Western New Hampshire along the newly established communities adjacent to the Connecticut River. This particular butler's desk most likely originated in Western Vermont where at the turn of the 19th century talented cabinetmakers trained in New York City sought patrons for their work as competition in the city was high and demand for their skills was spreading all throughout the newly established states. We see the influence of famed cabinet shops such as The Allison Brothers and other noted masters of the trade spread into the Western Vermont communities at the dawn of the early 19th century. While the influence of New York City in elements of the case construction and overall proportions and design are unquestionable this butlers desk exhibits the unique and wonderous design appeal that emerged from this region of Vermont during this era. The absolute finest examples of the craftsmanship of this region are exhibited at The Shelburne Museum, The Hood Museum of Art, and throughout many smaller state and independent museums scattered throughout the region. It is our modest opinion that this particular example is worthy of any of these collections and in all honesty superior to some of the case furniture currently showcased at these marvelous institutions.

The desk is constructed primarily of cherry with brilliant bird's eye maple and mahogany veneers utilized to provide a mix of vibrancy and contrast. The case is constructed with a frame and panel technique made popular towards the end of the 18th century as it allows the large wooden sides and backs to float in a framework ensuring a limitation to age and moisture related changes over time. The gallery is well formed and contoured with octagonal geometric inlaid panels to either side which help to provide such a stately presence. The case consists of an arrangement of nine drawers with the central drawer designed to function as a butlers desk drawer which drops down to reveal a full interior. When the butlers drawer is hinged downward by the original tracking brass hardware seven compartmented pigeonhole cubbies and eight smaller interior drawers are revealed each fitted with the original brass turned pulls. The desk retains the original hardware including the two tombstone shaped inset locks which allow the fall front drawer to function when the center actuating button is depressed. Three graduated drawers are cased below the smaller upper drawers and writing interior each of which functions smoothly and is well suited for every day use. The most striking attributes of this desk are the carved half columns and acanthus carved legs which really elevate the piece to an institutional quality example. The discussion and scholarship around regional Vermont furniture is still evolving with all collectors generally referring to "The Rich and Tasty" publication on Vermont furnishings published in 2015 as the definitive reference guide to this field of study. While we would love to place an attribution towards the craftsman of this desk we are at present without any known counterpart to compare this to. What is beyond reproach is that the carving work is that of a master of the tradition with tightly executed acanthus leaves adorning the capitals of each half column and three dimensional banded pineapple influenced pattern with variated carved diamond points throughout the entirety of the carved embellishment. The chest measures 51 3/4" wide x 21 1/2" deep x 56 1/4" tall.


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