Secretary and Bookcase

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Federal style, 1790-1810
Baltimore; attributed to William Camp

A desk with a bookcase top was considered utilitarian and not suitable for the drawing room or most elaborate room of a Maryland house in the early 19th century. However, they were acceptable in parlors, dining parlors, libraries, and bedchambers. This example has a fall front drawer on the desk section, making it a “secretary” or “escritoire” in the terms of the period. The cabinet doors rather than drawers on the secretary are an unusual feature in Baltimore furniture. The piece descended in the family of Governor John Eager Howard. It may have been made by William Camp, Baltimore’s leading cabinetmaker of the early 19th century.

Mahogany. H 228.7, W 109, D 58.5 cm
Hampton National Historic Site, HAMP 22637