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Walnut Roll Top Desk

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    Posted 13 years ago

    (1 item)

    Your help... I would love to know more about this gorgeous walnut roll top desk with felt pull out writing surface and carved wooden pulls - it has a metal stamp that says Wm Schwarzwaelder & Co. I also have the lock to the desk although the lock has no key. I paid 2000 for the desk ~ I have no idea what it's worth but it's in amazing condition - I love it! I would love to know more about it!!!

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    1. Steve Morgan , 13 years ago
      If this an original, I have stories. I'm William O's great great grand son. Please feel free to contact me.
    2. Jeff Dohrmann, 13 years ago
      I have a beautiful rolltop, S-type, also by Wm. Schwarzwaelder & Co, and would like to know more about it and value. I purchased several years ago for $2,500.00. Thanks
    3. Pop_abides Pop_abides, 13 years ago
      Jeff, join in the fun, post pictures of your desk and you might just find something amazing instead of asking questions in the dark........just sayin'
    4. Pop_abides Pop_abides, 13 years ago
      @AntiqueLove, concrening the key, it very well may be worth your money and time to remove the lock and take it to a locksmith to obtain a key (get two), this would not harm the value of the desk and might even add to it.....
    5. Pop_abides Pop_abides, 13 years ago
      Even if I can't spell *concerning*
    6. ArcanumHall ArcanumHall, 12 years ago
      William Shwarzwaelder was the owner of a furniture company that operated out of Chichester, NY starting in the late 1800s. He ran the factory (and the town) until it went out of business in 1939, and the whole town was auctioned off. My wife and I recently bought a cabin in town that was built by Shwarzwaelder in about 1905, on the factory grounds. We are desperate to find an original Shwarzwaelder desk to use in our cabin. If you ever need to sell it, let me know! Here's a link to the wikipedia page, with lots more info:,_New_York
    7. AntiqueLove, 12 years ago
      Thank you to everyone that responded!
      Steve, I would love to know if the desk is an original. Is there a way in which I can verify or further identify specific information on the desk?
      Pop_abides, that is a great idea and I will research having 2 keys made, thank you for the wonderful suggestion.
      ArcanumHall, thank you so very much for such detailed information. I greatly enjoyed reading your comments and the link you provided. Although I am torn, I may consider selling. The desk is so beautiful I can't bring myself to sit and actually use it. It actually just sits looking gorgeous : )
    8. Pop_abides Pop_abides, 12 years ago
      All we ask is that you don't use this site as a sale point, please.
    9. tiskilwapark, 12 years ago
      I think I may be the de-facto current keeper-of-the-flame, wrt the history of the Schwarzwaelder factory and lands. So... AntiqueLove... I believe your desk is indeed both original and in beautiful condition. I have no special knowledge as to any commercial value it might have, but please feel free to contact me if you'd like to speak further.
      And Steve Morgan..hey, I'd love to talk to you. I've known a Brillon or two ( Elizabeth, SB's widow, died about three years back.. but I've never been in touch with any of Wm. O's direct descendents). My home is what used to be called "the farm" and our land.. the last 300 acres of "the park" still privately held. So email or call me.. 845-688-5051. Thanks, all.
    10. ripple, 12 years ago
      Just today, I became the proud new owner of a Wm Schwarzwaelder roll top desk. It is oak and it is in fair shape. I was researching its origin when I found this site and ongoing conversation. Any suggestions on whether it can be refinished or should we just "clean it up" and accept the wear? It spent many years in a basement shop and more recently in a utility type of office. I do not have a lot of antique experience.
    11. ArcanumHall ArcanumHall, 12 years ago
      I found one! Finally located one on Craigslist Seattle (a very long journey from Chichester, wonder where else it has lived over the last century?) Here's a link to my posting:
    12. dscook, 12 years ago
      Interesting that Schwarzwaelder furniture is showing up! So glad to hear there are still some pieces out there. I am also a direct descendant of Wm O.; a great great granddaughter, so Steve Morgan if you ever check out this comment page, please contact me at My sister and I would love to talk to you.
    13. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 12 years ago
      That has got to be the most beautiful "roll-top" desk I have ever seen. I thought I made nice furniture but now know I'm a true novice. That would take me yrs to reproduce & that's with a lot of help from modern tools. I am truly impressed & that is not an easy feat. It isn't a roll-top in the normal term as it doesn't appear to have rolling mortised slats. I would be curious about that.
      I used to use the french-polish method for fine furniture but was shown by a dutch furniture-maker how cordoba wax cuts the work to 1/100.
      Your economy sucks now, but I would think that 20 yrs ago it would demand $20-30K or more.
      I keep seeing the reference to "Wm O". Care to explain?
    14. dscook, 12 years ago
      So glad to hear of your appreciation of this beautiful piece of furniture.
      Wm O was the founder of the William Schwarzwaelder Furniture Co.; at one time, the largest furniture company in the United States.
      Wm O had 3 sons and 1 daughter. Our grandfather was his namesake, and my father was Wm. Schwarzwaelder Jr. I believe Steve Morgan who has commented before on this site is the grandchild of Wm O's daughter.
      My sister and I own a hardbound catalog book, showing the furniture, including desks, that the company made. There is one desk that received a metal at the World's Fair circa 1932.
    15. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 12 years ago
      O, pun intended. I can see how it received an award.
    16. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 11 years ago
      I have to confess that I keep coming back to this piece to marvel at it's beauty. I have the incredible S.Amer. redwoods but no where near that talent.
      I had thought about posting a take-down secretary I built but will wait until people's memories fade a bit on this item.
    17. dscook, 11 years ago
      I need to make corrections to my earlier post, just in case anyone is interested. Wm O. was not technically the founder of the company. He actually joined the family business in 1879. The company's founder was Christian Schwarzwaelder (Wm O's uncle), started in 1834. His brother William joined him in 1858, with Wm O coming on later.
      In the 1870's the brothers were recognized as pioneers and leaders in the export business of commercial furniture.
      A mahogany desk won a gold medal in the Chicago World's Fair in1893.
    18. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 11 years ago
      Willie O's furniture is beginning to embarrass me in my works.
    19. AntiqueLove, 11 years ago
      I Love that the treasure I found has been enjoyed by many and that it has brought so many people together. I truly hope you reached Steve Morgan :) I am unsure why his email link is no longer found? Thank you for listing such great history. I loved reading about your family and relation to Wm O! I am definitely going to be selling my beautiful desk :( but when I do, I will be certain to pass along it's history. All my Best
    20. Choochsteen, 11 years ago
      I too am the proud owner of a rather shop-worn Schwarzwaelder rolltop. I got it from the liquidator of the Ostermoor Mattress factory in Bridgeport CT in 1985. I believe it was the shop foreman's desk. It is rather large (60 x 36 x 54) and made of oak, with a 1/4 wooden bead trim. I love it.
    21. stevenlevy, 10 years ago
      I too have a Schwarzaelder Rolltop Desk. Its a typical S-curve, double pedestal solid oak desk that is 66" by 38" by 51" tall. After I got married in 1967 I told my wife I wanted a rolltop desk and we searched for several years for one that met my idea of what a rolltop desk should look like. She kept finding desks for me see and I kept rejecting them because they didn't fit the image I had in mind. In 1971 I finally found this desk in pieces in Cockeysville, MD. The shop owner was using the base as his desk and the rest of the pieces were scattered around his shop. We searched and found all the pieces and I bought the whole mess for $350 and took it home in my father-in-laws station wagon. It was so dirty that I thought it was dark mahogany but when I started to clean it up I saw it was yellow oak - just as it should be!

      It took me several years and all my fingernails to completely restore it using alcohol and fine steel wool to remove all of the old grime and finish, but still preserve the original patina. I even dismantled the tambour (the rolltop) and stripped each slat with their interconnecting grooves and then remounted them onto artists canvas so that the roll goes up and down smoothly. It has all the original locks with new keys, nameplate and brass pulls for the cubbies. I have used it as my daily desk for the last 40 years and still love it. The nice thing about it is that it can be completely disassembled into about 10 pieces. I searched for information on it many years ago and am now glad to hear that there is at least a small group of people who appreciate this company's desks. I'll post a picture of it if I can figure out how to do it.
      I've seen a lot of other rolltops over the years and I still believe this desk is the penultimate icon of the American rolltop desk.
    22. stevenlevy, 10 years ago
      Oh, by the way, I think the desk in the posted picture at the top of this listing is referred to as a cylinder top or barrel top desk, not a roll top, because the top is a single curved piece not flexible slats.
    23. dscook, 10 years ago
      Great story, stevenlevy. I'm glad to hear you have enjoyed and appreciated your desk for so many years. That would be great to post a pic if you can. I so glad to hear that people love their furniture.
    24. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 10 years ago
      Many years ago, I saw roll top desks that had the groves in the slats milled/routed to where each slat was attached to the next without a canvass or leather strip glued inside to tie them together. After seeing those, I always considered the desks that had the straps as newer & cheaper made. Can anybody help me understand the difference? Studying the ones without the straps showed a very interesting grooving to accomplish the that action.
    25. Demosl, 9 years ago
      I too have an S type rolltop, W.M. Scwarzwaelder oak desk that I am selling. It's in great condition and if anyone is interested please message me at 860-690-5836 I'm asking $1500.

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