“To a Walnut Dask”, Part II, The Writing Compartment.

Part II of Christopher Storb’s examination of John Head’s walnut desk.

Jack Plane

In Proportion to the Trouble

open Writing compartment of the desk attributed to John Head. Made in Philadelphia, 1720-1740. Black walnut, hard pine, Atlantic white cedar, yellow poplar, brass, iron. Private collection.

For a lack of other surviving desks that can be attributed to John Head’s shop, we have no way of knowing if the writing compartment is typical of his work.  More or less elaborate interiors may account for some part of the range of prices Head charged for desks.

Along the back at the center of the writing compartment are five divided openings over three drawers.  In front of the drawers is a board that slides towards the back revealing another storage space commonly called a well.  Wells were a common device seen on desks in the first decades of the eighteenth century, but by the late 1730s, they were were on their way out of favor, replaced by an additional drawer above…

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About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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2 Responses to “To a Walnut Dask”, Part II, The Writing Compartment.

  1. Matt McGrane says:

    Interesting that the writing surface is supported by horizontal “lopers” or perhaps drawers. I’d only seen vertically oriented lopers before.


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