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Catalog Number: sw00888

A Fine Inlaid Mahogany Federal / Hepplewhite Breakfront, Rhode Island, c.1800

This breakfront was part of a superb collection of colonial furniture owned by Francis Hill Bigelowe of Cambridge MA, sold at the Anderson Galleries (later Sotheby’s) in 1924. In all likelihood, this is a Rhode Island made piece as all the secondary wood is chestnut and–from what we understand–it resided in Providence at one time in the collection of Marsden Perry, who owned and lived in the John Brown house at the turn of the century. This is an impressive and substantial casepiece retaining its original finials (see close up). At the center of the pediment, there is a plinth, which stylistically, was used for a ceramic or a bust, etc. We have an associated eagle of the same date as the secretary (see below).

Note the desk section, which for a breakfront, is fairly large, and retains its original 3-pin lock, indicating a sign of the best qualtiy. The doors below have pull out drawers for silver, making this a very serviceable casepiece.

American breakfronts are extremely rare and this is one of the finest of its type, displaying typical inlaid mahogany ovals on the drawerfronts, and string inlay throughout. Examine close-ups of the pediment for detail. For the cognoscenti, the inlay around the original finials feels like perhaps the work of a Providence shop.

This piece retains its original glass.


Collection of Francis Hill Bigelow; The Anderson Galleries, New York, January 12, 1924, lot 72
Northeast Auctions, The Estate of Marjorie Rockwell, February 22, 2008, lot 1809
Edward B. Aldrich (1871 – 1857)


Height: 95"
Width: 70"
Depth: 24"

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