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The appearance of the bombtf form in Boston poses a number of complex, unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable questions. What is the origin of the form that became so popular in Boston? How did

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94. Tea Table. Boston ігєя, e. 1740-1770. Mahngmy and white pine; H, 17% indies, w. indies, n. aj indies. (Museum of Pine Arts, boston, M. sntl M. Karolik Collection, 41.441a.)

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№. Си к st-on’-Chest. Made by Nathan Bower and Fbenexer Martin, Marblehead, !7&э. Mahogany and white pine; n_ tfointhes, w, 42, inches, d. 24’/a inches. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Miss Josie E, Prescott at id Miss Mary F„ Prescott,

the design arrive in Boston? Why does the form appear only m Massachusetts, an atca resistant to the Counter-Reformation and its development of the baroque aesthetic?

A thorough study of Boston bomb£ furniture is handicapped by an absence of firm identification. Few of the more than fifty extant examples arc signed, dared, or recorded in family histories, Only four bomb£ cascpicccs are tnown to be labelled by cabinetmakers. However, a number of generalizations can be drawn from the small amount of documentary information available. Major Benjamin Frothingham (1734-1809) signed a bombe desk and bookcase in four places in 1753 (fig. У7), the earliest dated American example. Although the signatures arc probably that of Major Benjamin rather than that of his father (also named Benjamin), Frothingham would have been nineteen years old in 1753, There is a second signature, an unidentified "D Sprage.” Whether both Major Benjamin and Sprage were working in the elder Froth і ogham’s shop and this desk wras а ehef £ oeuvre made to demonstrate their competence, or whedicr this is one of the first products of a short-lived and previous­ly unrecorded partnership is not known at this time. We only know that Frothingham was connected with the construction of this im­portant and handsome desk in 1753. The latest dated example is a chcst-on-chest made by John Cogswell for the (Derby family in 17З2 (fig. 123). That the Derbys, Salem’s most fashion-conscious newly rich, chose to order a bombe chest from Boston shows the domi­nance of Boston cabinetwork in Massachusetts, and also die continu­ing appeal of the bombe form after the Revolution and perhaps as late as die turn of the century.