American Victorian Desk by John Jelliff

This is a magnificent writing desk with etegare by John Jelliff (1813-1893), generally considered the most important New Jersey cabinet maker of the nineteenth century. From 1836 to 1890, John Jelliff and Company produced some of America's finest, hand-crafted furniture. His workshop was particularly known for their seating and parlour furniture, and produced work comparable to his competitors in New York, including Herter Brothers, John Henry Belter, and Alexander Roux. Measures approximately 64.5" high by 36.75" wide by 23 3/4" deep. Believed to date from the pre-Civil War period, c1845- 1855. Made from fine rosewood. We'll gladly forward additional images upon request. As with many Jelliff pieces, it features elements of gothic, renaissance and French rococo style. Included is the original key that works all of the locks to the top drawers. (Key for the center main drawer is missing, and we're not sure if the main drawer lock is in working condition.) Overall condition is very good. Leather top is not original. Scratched into the underside rear skirt are words in script which appear to read "Refinished..." and the year 1881, plus another word or two which we have not yet deciphered. Dowels in the underside of the top drawer/etagere section fit firmly into the desktop. There is a good degree of color difference between the covered desk surface and surrounding surface, which further supports the belief the desk was refinished in the late nineteenth century. A very similar desk was left to the Newark Museum in 1924 and was described in the bequest as a "Jelliff escritoire". This desk, dated 1845-1855, was made by Jelliff & Co. for a family in Newark. The form relates closely to French designs published in 1844 in "Le Garde-Meuble", the French magazine of furniture and interior design. Ulysses Dietz, longtime Curator of Decorative Arts at the Newark Museum discussed this desk in his article for "Antiques" magazine in their May 1986 issue. (Copies of the entire article will be gladly forwarded upon request.) Mr. Dietz was kind enough to inspect our desk and he firmly attributed the piece to Jelliff. In some ways our desk is more appealing than the one held by the Newark museum, for it is made of rosewood (versus mahogany), has no stretcher underframing, and has carved decoration on the left and right skirts unlike the example held by the museum. Jelliff pieces are included in the permanent collections of many other fine museums, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the New Jersey Historical Society; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; and the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach. Thanks for visiting, and please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions. Other Keywords: neo-renaissance neo-gothic anglo-indian english colonial american victorian etagere jjj

Item Details

Reference #:
Furniture & Furnishings
Antiques (approx100yrs)
(Width x Height X Depth)
x x
Very Good