With a roll top, closely related satinwood interiors, arched knee recesses and reeded legs with paw feet, this desk and bookcase is similar to two desk and bookcases attributed to the shop of Duncan Phyfe (1770-1854). Another desk and bookcase bearing the cabinetmaker's 1820 label displays a similar lower case and drawer arrangement (Betty C. Monkman, The White House: Its Historic Furnishings & First Families (New York, 2000), pp. 107, 267; Berry B. Tracy, 19th Century America: Furniture and Other Decorative Arts (New York, 1970), no. 20; Peter M. Kenny and Michael K. Brown, Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York (New York, 2011), pp. 198-199, pl. 25).
An interior signature on a board backing the cylinder section reads George B Rawson Providence, most likely a reference to George Burrill Rawson (1805-1895), the last in a long line of family cabinetmakers in Providence. By the nineteenth century, the Rawson cabinetmakers included Joseph, Sr. (1760-1835) and his four sons: Joseph Jr. (1788-1870), Samuel (1786-1852), William R. (1790-1835) and George Burrill. George worked in the family shop beginning in 1828 and in 1854, became a partner. As discussed by Joseph K. Ott and Eleanore Bradford Monahan, the business focused on repairs and upholstery rather than making new furniture in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Thus, Rawson's signature on an early nineteenth-century New York desk suggests that the desk was later owned in the Providence area, where it underwent treatment in the Rawson shop (Joseph K. Ott, "Lesser-known Rhode Island cabinetmakers: the Carliles, Holmes Weaver, Judson Blake, the Rawsons, and Thomas Davenport," The Magazine Antiques (May 1982), pp. 1159-1160; Eleanore Bradford Monahon, "The Rawson family of cabinetmakers in Providence, Rhode Island," The Magazine Antiques (July 1980), p.142). For other related examples, see Bloomfield, New Jersey, Nye and Company, 18 December 2012, lot 2799755 and Sotheby's, New York, 23 January 2009, lot 220.