Goddard-Townsend Antique Secretary Desk
The Goddard Townsend Antique Secretary Desk is a piece of 18th Century furniture made by John Goddard, circa 1760. The maker
John Goddard (1723/4 – 1785) was an American cabinet-maker.
Goddard came from a family of Quakers, famous for contributing to “an extensive body of New England furniture associated with Newport, Rhode Island”.
Goddard was primarily associated with the “development of ‘block front’ design” which is “claimed to be the most distinctively American product in woodwork, especially when the block [is] surmounted by the shell.”
The piece is a mahogany six-shell desk-bookcase and was made for merchant Nicholas Brown, circa 1760. The desk is 112 inches high.
Thought to be “one of nine in existence”, the high value of this piece “is due in part to scarcity, since pre- Revolutionary furniture is as sparse as its spare Yankee lines.”
On 3rd June 1989, the piece sold for $12,100,000 at a Christie's auction in New York. It was sold by the Brown family to furniture dealer Harold Sack, who “bought the desk for an anonymous client, believed to be Texas billionaire Robert Bass.”
To this day, the sale “remains the highest price ever paid at auction for a piece of American furniture.”
In 1990, Time Magazine reported that “since the sale of the Newport desk, Kindel Furniture of Grand Rapids has booked orders for 110 replicas at $19,000 each.”