John Townsend bureau table set to highlight Christie's Americana Sale

Christie's New York has announced that a mahogany Chippendale block-and-shell bureau table, signed by John Townsend and dated approximately 1770 is expected to highlight the American Furniture, Folk Art and Prints consignment of its January 25 Americana auction.

A John Townsend cabinet is to auction as part of Christie's Americana sale
Will the famous shell-form desk hit the
$1m mark?

The imposing, dark wood desk, which features a seldom seen four-shell form, carries a presale estimate of $700,000-900,000.

Thought to be one of fewer than 10 four-shell form Townsend desks still in existence, the important desk is signed by esteemed cabinet maker Townsend on the underside of the top drawer, suggesting the craftsman took a great deal of pride in this particular piece.

A John Townsend desk is to auction as part of Christie's Americana sale
A detail from the cabinet

The desk also features English-made Rococo brass fittings, which, rather unusually for furniture of this age, have retained a great deal of their coating.

As well as the John Townsend bureau table, the sale, which takes place over a number of days in New York, will feature a remarkable cache of American silver on January 24, as well as consignments of English pottery and Chinese export art on January 28.

The top end furniture market has been experiencing something of a boom of late, with a Louis XV ormolu-mounted desk topping Bonhams' European furniture auction in December. The black and gold desk brought £55,250 ($89,108) and is reminiscent of Madame Pompadour's desk, which also sold in December, at Christie's, for £3.2m ($5.1m).

View our superb English furniture for sale here.

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