Published: September 17, 2019
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A Charleston, S.C., secretary linen press was the top lot at Brunk Auctions’ September 13-14 sale when it brought $96,000 above a $50,000 high estimate. Circa 1790-1800 and measuring 98 by 50 by 24 inches, the figured mahogany piece featured an upper case that was topped by a removable broken arch and dentil molded pediment, set with “pomegranate” rosettes, the paneled doors with bookmatched wood, and opening to five graduated linen drawers. The lower case with a fitted secretary drawer over two additional long drawers. The secondary woods were cypress, red cedar, white and yellow pine.
The secretary featured a chalk inscription on the top of the lower drawer that the auction house says may reference the free African American cabinet maker John Gough, who was working in Charleston at that time. Gough served in the Revolutionary War, owned slaves and was financially successful. No other work by this artisan has been discovered to date. Gough is referenced in The Furniture of Charleston, 1680 to 1820, Rauschenberg and Bivins, Jr.
The cabinet featured some restorations, including replaced carved rosettes and finial, some bracing added, brasses and a door lock replaced, and some other minor veneer repairs.
Watch for a full review in an upcoming issue.
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