Desk and Bookcase

ca. 1811
Made in Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Mahogany, satinwood, maple, verre églomisé
with cedar
91 x 72 x 19 1/8 in. (231.1 x 182.9 x 48.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage and various other donors, by exchange, 1969
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 723
This H-shaped desk and bookcase may be the most unusual example of high-style furniture produced in the Federal period. Its design was inspired by the "Sister's Cylinder Bookcase," plate 38 in Thomas Sheraton's "Cabinet Dictionary" (London, 1803), but the maker substituted a rectangular fall-front desk between the two pedestals for Sheraton's cylindrical one. The decorative details are characteristic of fine Baltimore furniture. The double-line inlay spiraling down the turned legs can be found on at least one other piece of Baltimore furniture. The inscription refers to the date when Roswell Lyman Colt married Margaret Oliver, one of the four daughters of Robert Oliver, a millionaire merchant of Baltimore.
Inscription: [in pencil on underside of middle left drawer of desk] M Oliver / Married the 5 of October / 1811 / Baltimore
Margaret Oliver Colt, Baltimore, Maryland, ca. 1811; descended in the Colt family; Marsden J. Perry, Providence, Rhode Island; Joe Kindig, Jr., York, Pennsylvania, until 1969