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Slant-lid desk

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


mid 1770s


William Savery (c. 1722–1787)


43 in x 42 3/4 in x 23 1/2 in


Walnut; tulip poplar (drawer sides and interior parts), white cedar (large drawer bottoms, full dustboards)

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, The David Wilson Mansion, Inc.

Accession Number



“All Sorts of Chairs and / Joiners Work / Made and Sold by / William Savery / At the Sign of the / Chair, a little be- / low the Market, in / Second Street. / Philadelphia.” is printed on a label glued to the inside bottom of a small interior drawer.

Condition Notes

The front foot facings are replacements. The brasses appear to be original. Candle drawers have replaced brass pulls, and scarring from later brasses has been repaired.


The desk was bequeathed by Dr. and Mrs. J. Newberry Reynolds in 1942 to The David Wilson Mansion, Inc.


One of some 30 pieces of furniture bearing a printed label of Philadelphia chair and cabinet-maker William Savery, this desk was acquired by early collectors and has no earlier provenance.  It is one of four very similar Savery-labeled desks.  Although relatively plain, it is the most ornate of the four, having five carved shells in the interior.  As with most such desks, the locking central "prospect" door, between the two narrow "column drawers," opens to a fitted box that when removed accesses four "secret" drawers.  The narrow "candle" drawers in each upper corner of the desk front draw out to support the lid, rather than more common solid slides called "lopers."


Hotchkiss, “Wilson-Warner House,” 888, pl. V.

Philip D. Zimmerman, “Dating William Savery’s Furniture Labels and Implications for Furniture History,” in American Furniture 2018, ed. Luke Beckerdite, 209–10, fig. 18 (Milwaukee, Wis.: Chipstone Foundation, 2018).

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 112-113.