Lady's writing table with tambour shutters

Tambour desk

John Seymour (American (born in England), 1738–1818), Thomas Seymour (American (born in England), 1771–1848)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


128.27 x 101.6 x 53.34 cm (50 1/2 x 40 x 21 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Satinwood and curly satinwood veneer, eastern white pine, black ash, black walnut, cedar, cherry, light- and dark-wood inlays, brass

On View

Prudence S. and William M. Crozier, Jr. Gallery (Gallery 121)




Case furniture and boxes

Tall desk of tambour form, recessed upper section enclosed by sliding tambour doors, flanked by inlaid pilasters, which open to reveal on each side three pigeonholes with Gothic arches and blue-green paint above tier of small drawers fitted with ring pulls; lower case contains folding writing section above three graduated drawers; tapered legs with scrolled knee brackets terminate in spade feet; brasses replaced

Few pieces made by the Seymours are marked, labeled, or otherwise signed. This desk retains its original paper label (on the the backboard), giving the name of the firm and advertising its location on Creek Square, in Boston. Today, this object usually is called a tambour desk because of its use of tambour doors enclosing the interior in the upper case. These doors consist of vertical strips of satinwood glued to a linen backcloth; each shutter slides in a groove that runs across the front, sides, and part of the back of the upper case. When open, the tambour doors reveal twelve small drawers and six pigeonholes.


Paper label on back reads: "JOHN SEYMOUR & SON, / CABINET MAKERS, / CREEK SQUARE / BOSTON"

Paper owner's lable of George Alfred Cluett Jr. is pasted to the interior of a lower-case drawer.

In pencil: pairs of numbers in the interior corners of upper-case drawers.


Original owner unknown; in collection of Francis Hill Bigelow, Cambridge, Mass., by 1925; sold in that year to George A. Cluett; descended in the Cluett family to Mark Cluett; on loan to Historic Deerfield, about 1964-74; from the family to the dealer; by sale to the Museum, 2000 (Accession date June 21, 2000)

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously, Henry H. and Zoe Oliver Sherman Fund, and by exchange from the Bequest of George Nixon Black, Bequest of Mrs. Charles R. Codman, and Gift of Mrs. Ruth K. Richardson