Object Place: Annapolis, Maryland
83.2 x 92.1 x 58.4 cm (32 3/4 x 36 1/4 x 23 in.)
Medium or Technique
Mahogany, mahogany veneer, light- , dark- and stained-wood inlays; yellow pine
Not On View
The lift-top desk has a curved back, canted sides, and a straight front with a false drawer. The drawer front is outlined with light, possibly satinwood, stringing and is equipped with large wooden pulls. The sides and back panel are strung with simple geometric frames of light-wood inlay, and the posts are inset at the corners with panels of burl wood of medium brown color, bordered with alternate bands of mahogany and light-wood inlay. In the center of the curved back panel is a large oval with the eagle of the Great Seal in shaded light-wood inlay and dark-wood, possibly holly, inlay. The streamer in the eagle’s beak was decorated with Xs for the states, which are now largely obliterated. The legs are tapered and decorated with round-headed stringing. The front legs are square in section, while the back ones take the shape of a sideboard leg and are of diamond section. The lift top is covered with brown morocco (replaced in 1963), and on the ledge above, with its curved gallery, is a raised tray fitted for pens, ink, and a sander.
This desk was used in the State House in Annapolis, probably in the House of Delegates Chamber about 1807. When the new furniture was constructed by John Needles of Baltimore in 1819 for the State House, he was given the old furniture as part payment. Much of the Senate furniture has descended in Annapolis families and must have been sold locally by the Needles. This desk was owned by Rear Admiral Albert Ross, who lived in the Brewer House on the Duke of Gloucester Street. It descended in his family for two generations, coming to Elizabeth Ross (Mrs. John Caswell), the sister-in-law of the donatrix, Mrs. Robert B. Choate of Danvers, Massachsuetts (Accession date January 9, 1963).
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert B. Choate