Published: February 1, 2021
LOS ANGELES – A Chippendale carved cherry and walnut block-front slant-lid desk, attributed to the Martinsburg, Va., workshop of John Shearer, achieved the top price in the sale, realizing $37,812 when it crossed the block at the Elegant Home sale at Bonhams’ Los Angeles on January 26. The desk had previously been offered at Christie’s in 1991 and twice at Sotheby’s, once in 1987 and more recently, in 1996, when it sold for $28,750. The catalog essay for the desk discussed Shearer’s habit of using his furniture to discretely promote pro-Tory propaganda. To that end, the interior face of the rear tambour partition was affixed a document that read: Made by me John S– When the British — Capital of America. God save the King — amen — the worst and greatest vill — in Loudoun County Virginia By — e Torrys on — ard.. It is believed the first part of this inscription refers to the event When the British … [burned the] … capital of America. on August 24, 1814.
Speaking after the sale, department head Anna Hicks said, “We had a lot of interest in it, between both private collectors and trade buyers. The fact that it’s been tucked away for 25 years helped, too. We are really pleased with the results we got for it.” She acknowledged that the desk sold to an existing Bonhams client, located on the East Coast, who was bidding on the phone. A more extensive sale review will follow. For more information, www.bonhams.com.
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