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My Favorite Antique Desk

In Furniture > Desks > Show & Tell and Victorian Era > Show & Tell.
Desks197 of 635Custom Antique Secretary? Cabinet/Desk?Typewriter desk
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    Posted 5 years ago

    (1 item)

    I purchased this at an estate sale with very little idea of age or style. I am of the opinion that it is American Empire or Federal, circa 1830, but that is a total guess. The construction is not elegant but is very functional. I find it to be beautiful and rustic at the same time. The piece was once used vigorously for many years judging by the wear patterns on the draws and their openings.

    Here are my questions for those who may know:
    What is its era, and style?
    Where was it made?
    What do you believe its original function to be?
    Would replacing the damaged green felt on the slant top effect its value?
    Is the green felt likely to be original?
    Would using leather to replace the felt be appropriate?

    I would love to hear your opinions on this piece.

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    1. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      Love it-- a great desk! Do you use it?

      My overall impression is American Empire-- the cornice is what really stands out as Empire.

      There are other pieces that are more typical of other styles.

      The ornamentation around the inside of the two top swinging doors is more typical of a Victorian piece.

      The drawer pulls are not typical empire and the brass escutcheons don't all match (some are rounded pieces/ three with just small brass inserts).

      I'd put this in the 1850s.

    2. Walt_league, 5 years ago
      The escutcheons match, it just that three are missing. It is also missing a lock on the top center draw. One of the pigeon holes is missing its bottom, and on the opposite side it is missing one of its vertical dividers. I wish I could post more pictures, I would show closeups of the pulls, escutcheons, and the front dovetails on the drawers which are much more delicate and ornate.
    3. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      Ok-- three missing. I looked again and a close up on the bottom drawer shows a darker ring of wood where it would have been.

      As far as the felt-- in my experience, most of the pieces that I have seen have had the felt replaced. It didn't seem to make any difference in value.

    4. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      You already have this item double listed.

      You could go and replace the photos on the other listing with some of the close ups that you mentioned.

    5. Walt_league, 5 years ago
      I deleted the double listing but can't figure out how to delete some photos and replace them with others.
    6. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      If you look at the left of the listing, just above the "delete" is "edit your listing".

      Once you have the listing pulled up you can "remove" and "add" additional photos.

      I'd create another posting (or two) with additional photos. That way, as additional CW members see the posting; they will have access to all of the photos.

    7. Walt_league, 5 years ago
      New Picture have been added. tried three times to reorder their positions, then gave up.
    8. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 5 years ago
      It is definitely not american empire but rather tradional and with some nice neo-classical elements.
    9. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 5 years ago
      Meant to say traditional.
    10. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 5 years ago
      i love this desk! is it called a campaign desk - slanted top like this? i'm not sure. also, am very curious why Phil thinks that it's not American empire? that would have been my guess too. i like the cutouts above the galley [?] - the curvy skirt. nice lines in contrast with all the straight empire lines. beautiful piece!
    11. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 5 years ago
      American Empire uses much more heavy elements in its carving. Also to ho2, American Empire never had simpler bottoms like this. I have a lot of books on empire furniture and I also collect it. The whole piece on the top is based on Neo-classical furniture design. If anything Regency furniture used Neo-classical elements like this top, esp on bookcases. I do not tell people about such things as garden statues since I know little except about the more important ones which I have some good books on. Although this bookcase is neoclassical it is quite a simple design which adds greatly to its beauty. If you can get a copy of the book, "George Smith A Collection of Designs For Household Furniture " which he did in very early 1800's, during the Regency and Empire periods you will see a lot of his magnificent designs ( all drawings ) for Neo-Classical design for furniture with similar "pediment" to this desk. This pediment was especially used for bookcases. Both Empire and Regency mixed neo-classical design in some of their furniture. The web is too mixed up to find many designs but if you want to see architecture with this design, just look up "neo-classical pediments" !! Your really need books sometimes to know more about furniture than what you can find on the internet ho2. Here is a more elaborate design but hopefully you can see the similarities on this bookcase neo-classical pediment :
    12. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 5 years ago
      I have also liked the neoclassical broken pediment which is used more often in bookcases and also mirrors :
    13. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 5 years ago
      Greek neo-classic designed building :

    14. Walt_league, 5 years ago
      Phil and ho2
      Do you believe it to be American made?
      What circa date do you believe it to be?
      One further note, there are no marking on the piece to indicate the maker.
    15. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      I collect American Empire furniture.

      Your is American and as I said and my overall impression is Empire. Empire IS a late neoclassical style!

      Here are some other auction house identified pieces with similar characteristics:

      Here is a French Empire desk of a type that inspired what you have:

      In French Empire pieces, the pilasters often have elaborate carving. More typical in the American version are simple straight or turned legs and pilasters.


    16. Walt_league, 5 years ago
      I would like to thank all of you for taking interest in my newly acquired desk. I appreciate all of the comments that this post generated. It is nice to be able to tap into so many people who have the love of antiques, and the solving of mysteries. Scott, after seeing your examples, the design elements of the legs, The dovetailing in the drawers, the decorative elements surrounding the panels of the doors, the design of the pediment, and the overall sturdiness of desk; I would have to agree that you that it is American Empire, somewhere between 1820-1840.
      I have learned a lot over the past several days, and I hope that I can contribute in the areas of vintage recorded music.
      Thank you all for your contribution to it's identification.
    17. Walt_league, 5 years ago
      I think I got my $60.00 worth.
    18. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      $60 was a great buy.

      In general 19th century American furniture is not in vogue at this time. There are some tremendous bargains out there. I wish I had more space to add SALE PRICED furniture to my collection!

    19. Walt_league, 5 years ago
      Why do I think that it will cost more for the chair to match it?
    20. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 5 years ago
      thank you Phil, Scott and Walt - for a very interesting and informative post!
    21. Walt_league, 5 years ago
      You are welcome ho2cultcha!

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