- Last Updated on Saturday, 05 January 2013 19:10
- Published on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 05:00
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A couple in suburban Maryland inherited this desk from his mother, who was a Norfolk antique dealer, who spent her last years here in the Northern Neck. She had bought the desk at an estate sale about ten years ago, and considered it to be one of her finest pieces. It is English oak, with its original finish, and has an amphitheater interior. The hardware is original.
This desk dates from the reign of King George III. If I were to put a date on it, I should say 1800. It is typical of the Chippendale-to-Georgian style, and is in remarkably good condition. The simplicity of the lines, and the dark tone of the English oak would make it a popular piece on today’s market.
Having the original hardware is particularly noteworthy. Brass was being used extensively for cannon during the many wars of that era, leaving little for cabinetmakers to use for furniture hardware. As a result, much of the hardware of the period was cheap and flimsy, and did not last long, leading to replacement hardware being the norm, rather than the exception. These escutcheons and bails (the technical term for pulls or handles) are clearly of good quality. I advise against ever taking them off for polishing, as they might not fit as well when replaced, and could be broken in the process.
Many collectors esteem the dark English oak, but mahogany in such pieces remains more in demand, thus affecting the price. This desk is worth $3,500. The amphitheater interior, which means that the small drawers and cubbyholes are tiered and curved from the sides to the interior, raises the overall quality of the piece considerably. The presence in that interior of secret compartments is another sign of refinement and sophistication on the part of the cabinetmaker. Happy antiquing!