Twice labeled by its makers, Samuel Stone and Giles Alexander, this slant-front desk illustrates the popularity of the Chippendale style well into the 1790s in Boston. The simpler label on the backboard is considered to be the earlier of the two and is identical to the one on a side chair now at Winterthur Museum (Charles F. Montgomery, American Furniture: The Federal Era (New York, 1966), pp. 86-87, 478, cat. 31). According to the 1796 Boston City Directory, the cabinetmaking partnership of Stone & Alexander operated at Prince and Back Streets. There were three Alexander brothers, Giles, William and James, all of whom worked at 51 Back Street (see Swan, listed below, p. 282); Giles has more recently been identified as the cabinetmaker in partnership with Stone (Anne Rogers Haley, "Boston cabinetmakers and allied craftsmen, 1780-1799: A new resource," Antiques (May 1996), p. 764).
This desk is virtually identical to an example attributed to Stone & Alexander and illustrated in Barry A. Greenlaw, New England Furniture at Williamsburg (Williamsburg, VA, 1974), pp. 118-120, cat. no. 100. It is also closely related to another described as "Best" by Albert Sack, which bears the same label as that seen on the underside of the desk offered here (Albert Sack, The Fine Points of Furniture (New York, 1950), p. 147; also illustrated in Mabel M. Swan, "Boston's Carvers and Joiners," Antiques (April 1948), p. 282, fig. 3). A third desk noted to be similar to the latter example, sold at Sotheby's New York, October 13, 2000, lot 258. Other furniture labeled by Stone & Alexander include a pair of chairs at the Henry Ford Museum and a chest-of-drawers in a private collection, illustrated in William C. Ketchum Jr., American Cabinetmakers, marked American Furniture 1640-1940 (New York, 1995), p. 328.