You can see tiny samples of his miniatures in the two oval containers inside the desk. But Ramage didn't just make the paintings; he also built little frames and cases to hold the miniatures, often crafting the cases in gold with elaborate designs, and engraving the backs of the cases. This little desk held all of his tools for that work, so it was the ideal piece of furniture for a man who moved around from place to place. And move he did. He was living in Boston with this wife when the revolution began in 1775, but he was born in Ireland and felt loyal to the British Crown. So he moved to Nova Scotia, without his wife. He also married in Canada, but two years later he was exposed as a bigamist and fled to New York City to escape public disgrace. He stayed there after the war, married again and changed addresses often. Eventually he had to leave New York in a hurry because he was going to be arrested for bad debts. He took off for Montreal this time, leaving behind another wife. New-Yrok Historical has nearly 800 miniatures in its collection, including 16 by Ramage.

The owner of this mahogany slant top desk really got around in the 1700s. He had to. I'll explain why in a minute, but first I'll tell you about the desk. It belonged to John Ramage, an artist who specialized in miniatures—tiny paintings done on small pieces of ivory.

Creative: Tronvig Group