about 1760

Object Place: Probably Boston or Essex County, New England, United States

Catalogue Raisonné

Randall 58


Overall: 114.6 x 103.5 x 59.7 cm (45 1/8 x 40 3/4 x 23 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Mahogany, white pine

Not On View




Case furniture and boxes

This fall-front desk has an interior with seven carved fans. The central falling door of the cabinet has a reverse blocked front with a large fan, as do the outer tiers of three drawers. In between are two shaped and blocked drawers, each with two pigenoholes above with small pen drawers carved with fans. The fans on the small drawers are pierced at the bottom. The central door is flanked by document drawers with pilasters crowned with corkscrew finials, and behind it is a blocked drawer, a shelf, and a small drawer with a cyma-curved lower edge. There are four large drawers in the main case with rounded corners and edges to the blocking. They are fitted with large escutcheons and brasss with bail handles. At the sides, applied to the case, are pilasters of slightly tapering outline with corkscrew finials. A double series of moldings carry the case into the feet. Tbe large claw-and-ball feet have slightly raked claws, deeply curved ankles, and shaped brackets. There is a simple center drop on the skirt.
The interior is white pine. The shelves of the interior have mahogany fore-edges.


Inside of the backboards is inscribed: "ARDS / [and] D [? RI."


The inscription, which is presumably D or H RICHARDS before it was cut in half, is unidentified. The desk was owned by Jonathan O'Dell (1737-1818) of Newark, N.J., a minister who lived in Burlington and Mt. Holly, N.J., from 1767 to 1776, and went to England in 1783 as Sir Guy Carleton's secretary, returning in the same year to Fredericktown, N.B. The desk was inherited by his son, Hon. William Hunter O'Dell of Halifax, N.S., and descended in his family. The history suggests that this Massachusetts desk was exported to New Jersey where it was acquired by Jonathan O'Dell.
At the death of the last O'Dell owner in Halifax, the desk was placed at auction, where it was acquired by a woman from whom, four years later, it was purchased by Leon David, a Boston dealer. Purchsed from Leon ca. 1940 by Miss Mary Thacher, Yarmouthport, Mass.;1940, gift of Miss Mary Thacher (Accession Date December 12, 1940)

Credit Line

Gift of Miss Mary Thacher