John Townsend bureau table smashes estimate with 146% increase


2015-06-26 13:08:42


John Townsend bureau table smashes estimate with 146% increase

A handsome John Townsend bureau table auctions for $2.2m at Christie's, New York

A historic block-and-shell bureau table, signed by the highly-regarded American cabinet maker John Townsend (1733-1809), sold at Christie's, New York, on January 25 for $2.2m. The sale price represents an impressive 145.6% increase on the piece's $900,000 high estimate.

John Townsend bureau table smashes estimate with a 146% increaseThe desk is one of only two pieces known to bear Townsends distinctive autograph

Dated 1770, the mahogany bureau table is signed on the underside of the top drawer, suggesting Townsend took a great deal of pride in this particular piece. It is thought to be one of fewer than 10 four-shell-form Townsend desks still in existence and one of only two pieces that bear Townsend's distinctive autograph.

The desk features English-made Rococo brass fittings, which, unusually for furniture of this age, have retained a great deal of their coating and boast a surprisingly even, golden patina.

Townsend is considered one of America's greatest colonial cabinet makers and the four-shell-form remains among his most celebrated designs. At the time of creation, the four-shell-form would have been the top line option available to customers, as the beautiful, shell-carved cabinet doors would have been time consuming to complete.

The high end furniture market has been experiencing something of a boom of late.Madame Pompadour's desk sold at Christie's in December for 3.2m ($5.1m).

For more information on the investment potential of the market, see Paul Fraser Collectibles' free guide to investing in art and photography.

And for more from the world's most hotly contested auctions, sign up for our free weekly newsletter.

Share on social media
Write a response...

The bookmarklet lets you save things you find to your collections.

Note: Make sure your bookmarks are visible.


Click and drag the Collect It button to your browser's Bookmark Bar.