With our highest compliments and utmost honors, Bay Colony Antiques is extremely proud to offer for sale this fantastic early 19th century antique Vermont Federal period Cherry & Birds Eye Maple tambour secretary desk. Tambour desks like this are a uniquely American design and the majority of them were made around the northeast coast in cities like Boston, Portsmouth, & Salem. We purchased this from a Massachusetts home in the very northwestern corner of the state about 5 minutes south of the Vermont border. The desk is one piece which unusual to begin with and is made from the absolute best grade of Birds Eye Maple and a dark stained Cherry to contrast the bright Maple. Because Vermont had an abundance of high quality local woods available, solid Birds Eye Maple boards were used for the drawer faces with the only veneered areas on the desk being the skirt and the lid. The Tambour doors open to reveal a 4 drawer interior with a total of 12 pigeonholes (6 standard, 1 large, 1 large double, 2 squares, & 2 rectangles). There’s a nicely scrolled panel above the upper pigeonholes and the 4 interior drawers have small brass knobs. One of our favorite features on the desk are the half columns that flank the upper section. The lower plinths are angled to allow the lid to pass and provide the necessary transition where the columns don’t look out of place.
In terms of rarity, this is probably rarer than a Seymour desk. Very few tambour desks were made in Vermont, but we don’t understand why because Vermont cabinet makers often advertised their training in major cities like Boston & New York where they learned the “latest fashions”. There’s a common misconception that western VT was primarily influenced by New York City and Hartford, & eastern Vermont drew more inspiration from Boston and Portsmouth. In reality the cabinet makers moved around and the majority of the settlers that came to Vermont in the early 19th century were from these neighboring states. The desk is very similar to pieces from John Marshall’s shop in Royalton Vermont. Marshall was a prolific cabinet maker and like most cabinet makers he didn’t sign his work. The same scrolling can be found on a documented John Marshall clock in Rich & Tasty and Marshall frequently used a 3 ring turning to separate turning patterns. Now we’re sure some will have a hard time correlating the two, but if you look at another John Marshall desk in the Dutton house not all of his furniture was inlaid like the Cheney clock. While only a handful of items are universally accepted to be from Marshall’s shop, we can assure you he made a lot more than a half a dozen pieces throughout his career. We were recently at the Bennington & the Shelburne museums and this desk can rival any desk in either collection. The lid is made from Cherry with a Birds Eye Maple veneer on the outside face with a banded Mahogany border. The construction on the inside of the lid is quite peculiar & there's a long drawer inside with a sectioned interior. Regardless of who made the desk, this is without a doubt one of the finest Vermont desks to surface in the last couple of decades with the only better examples we know of being sold by Sothebys & Christies that sold for high 5 figures. We fully believe this would hammer down for about 15-20k, in an important early American furniture sale but we really don’t like selling at auction. We use auctions to liquidate our estate residuals and have always prided ourselves with reserving the best for our clients. We deliver a much higher quality of service and with a fraction of the selling costs of major auction houses we’re able to offer this early American treasure to our clients at about 50% of its value with no added fees like a buyer's premium. The desk is in fantastic condition with our only notes being a small chunk missing from the upper left corner of the long drawer inside the lid, a couple of well-done veneer repairs to the lid & apron, & minimal surface wear. The desk measures 41” wide x 20 1/2” deep x 53 1/2” tall.