The ball-and-claw foot is closely associated with 18th-century furniture. However, its origin actually can be traced back much earlier to furniture produced in Asia. In this video, Bill Sargent, curator of the Asian Export Art exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, shares the history of an impressive drop-front desk that resides in the museum collection. The desk incorporates several Chinese design elements, including the ball-and-claw foot. Built from solid ivory tusk, the desk features intricate carvings, and is held together strictly with joinery.

For more information about the Peabody Essex Museum call 866-745-1876 or go online at www.pem.org.