Cylinder Desk and Bookcase

Maker: Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770–1854)

Date: 1815–20

Geography: Made in New York, New York, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Mahogany, mahogany veneer, satinwood, gilded
gesso with yellow poplar, white pine

Dimensions: 95 3/8 x 48 1/8 x 24 in. (242.3 x 122.2 x 61 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, in memory of Berry B. Tracy, 1985

Accession Number: 1985.236a, b


The exacting craftsmanship, rarely seen roll-top mechanism, and first-quality woods indicate that this bookcase was certainly made by one of the finest furniture establishments in the United States. One particular feature—the spiral-fluted ellipsoids above the tapered legs—relates this cylinder desk and bookcase to a labeled Duncan Phyfe work table in the Winterthur Museum collection. The writing board is mechanically activated and moves forward as the roll-top, or cylinder, front is lifted.