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Block Front Furniture

Considered by many to be the finest furniture ever made, the shell-carved block fronts showed excellent construction, beautiful design and superb carving.

John Goddard (1724-1785), a cabinetmaker of note in Newport, Rhode Island, invented the block front and had fifteen children-quite an accomplishment for any man. Several of his sons became cabinetmakers as was also his father-in-law, job Townsend.

Three blocks help form the contour of the front of this furniture: the middle one concave, and those to either side convex. In good examples the whole drawer front is made of one plank which had to be 3 inches thick to accommodate the carving.

Where shell carving appeared, the top board was straight, but where the block front was plain the top board was of a similar contour to the front.

Goddard developed a particularly lovely bracket foot of the ogee type.

Desks, both flat top and fall front, secretaries, chests of drawers and chests-on-chests were made during the rather short period of 1750 to 1780.

Mahogany was the usual wood, although there were occasional examples made in maple and cherry.

It is truly a shame that there were not more of these magnificent specimens made, for there are few available today.



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