This deceptively plain table is one of the masterpieces of John Townsend's late oeuvre. It is fashioned from the densest of Cuban or San Domingo mahoganies and retains its original oiled finish. Both the visible stop-fluting and cross-hatching and the interior construction are executed with machinelike precision. The table descended in the Champlin family of Newport, together with a 1765 block-and-shell chest (27.57.1) and a 1789 block-and-shell tall clock (27.57.2).
Inscription: [in ink, printed on paper label pasted inside drawer button]: MADE BY/JOHN TOWNSEND/NEWPORT [followed by, in ink and overwritten in ink]: 1786 [in ink parts of N and P of NEWPORT reinforced, and double-line border around the label] [large painted letters (early nineteenth century), on bottom of fixed top board and on outside of drawer bottom]: C J T/No 31
Probably originally purchased by George Champlin (died 1809), Newport, Rhode Island; his wife's niece Ruth Channing Tenney and her husband Caleb Jewett Tenney (whose initials are painted on the table's underside), Newport, Rhode Island, 1809; their daughter Elizabeth Tenney Allen, Northampton, Massachusetts, before 1865; her daughter Clara Channing Allen, Northampton, Massachusetts; purchased from her in 1927 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.