If you have visited the web site of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers (sapfm.org) recently, you have undoubtedly see this image:
From the SAPFM site:
Reproduction of a Seymour Tambour Desk with inlayed (sp?) Tambour.
The original, by John Seymour, was made circa 1793-1796 in Boston, MA.
It is now in the collection at the Winterthur Museum, Delaware.
Plans by Robert Millard were used.
I have been to Winterthur and have this picture to prove it:
Their picture is better:
There is also this desk at Bayou Bend in Houston, TX:
Bayou Bend offered the following explanation:
The tambour desk was a new and innovative form that reflects the increasingly important place of women in American society in the early 19th century, as well as the growing international influence on American furniture design. Rather than relying on English design sources, the desk appears to be related to a small group of furniture influenced by contemporary French models, in this instance the bonheur du jour, or small writing table, of the Louis XVI period (1774–1793). The desk enjoyed great popularity in Boston and in the cabinet making centers north of the city. Exhibited in the Federal Parlor at Bayou Bend, this example bears the script initials “TS” and is similar to a desk with a paper label bearing the names of John and Thomas Seymour. Although these relationships strengthen the attribution to the Seymours’ shop, they are not sufficient to attribute the desk to a specific maker. Thomas Seymour’s own advertisements specify that the furniture was made not by but “under the direction of Thomas Seymour.” Whether this elegant desk represents the work of an individual or a group, the accomplished results epitomize the cabinetmakers’ sensitive interpretations of the Neoclassical style in America, through the drawer pulls of English enamel, light-colored inlay, and delicate inlaid swags on the sliding tambour front.
Then, at a local auction, I saw this:
Federal Style Inlaid Tambour Writing Desk.
Description: Circa 1900, bench made, white pine secondary, two-part form, upper case with unusual inlaid tambour doors featuring bell flowers and columns, opening to a divided and drawered interior with line inlays, hinged writing surface with felt lining, over two graduated cock beaded drawers with line and corner fan inlays, square tapered legs with repeating column and bellflower inlay.
Size: 46.25 x 34.5 x 18.5 in.
Condition: Missing one interior pull; tambour doors with separation at ends; later felt lining.
Different than the Seymour’s but in 1900, they might not have had plans by Robert Millard to work from.
One does have to wonder who made the reproduction in 1900? It was a time of colonial revival. But Federal revival?