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A Carved Mahogany Chippendale Kneehole Desk, New York, c.1890, labeled "Sypher & Co."


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Sypher and Company was like the Hagen Brothers at the turn of the century in New York, producing the finest cabinetwork in New York, and perhaps anywhere else in America. Ernest Hagen actually bought Phyfe's tools, etc. and was a follower in his tradition. This desk retains a portion of its original label, though we were unable to decipher the maker until we found a matching complete label, shown below. Although we knew it was a fabulously hand-made piece of the best quality and materials, which, to most people, except the expert, would be deemed of the period (1780). The labeled piece we found is exhibited in the Pendleton House collection of the Rhode Island School of Design.

The piece itself has exceptional claw and ball feet with carved knees. The quality is equal to the best of any period example. Interestingly, the shell in the middle of this piece is a magnificently carved Victorian expression of the Chippendale shell which immediately tells one it is 1890 and not 1790…Sypher was not trying to fool anyone. I imagine this desk wouldn't have been terribly valuable at the end of the 19th century if it were period and therefore about 100 years old. At any rate, many very wealthy people in New York had furniture from their family handed down and wanted compatible pieces to fill out rooms, etc., and that's why we see much Hagen style Phyfe furniture from families that purchased from Phyfe and his contemporaries in the early 19th century.

We have left this piece in "as-found" condition with much of its original surface, and its original label on the back. The brasses are original.

Height: 31 in. Width: 37 1/2 in. Depth: 20 in.
$9,500