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Antiques Considered - April 8, 2009

    This past weekend our firm conducted an estate sale near Wicomico Church.  In it one of the pieces we offered was this small oak desk, which we priced at $150.  It dates from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, and is in excellent condition, still retaining its original oak pulls.   Many years ago the late owner had it refinished, and it still bears some of the spilled ink stains from the days when folks used inkwells, and wrote with fountain pens.
Oak furniture is coming back into its own as far as popularity is concerned.  In the 1940s people gave it away, only to rue their actions thirty years later.  When oak was rediscovered, especially among younger buyers, it hit the market with a storm.  That level of interest has continued unabated over the last generation, and remains strong today.
This desk proved to be a hot item, which generated much interest throughout the sale, and it sold on Sunday for slightly over $100.  The lines are simple and direct, and there is no embellishment such as carving or ornamentation.  Pieces which are more elaborate bring far higher prices.  Actually the arrival of oak on the market in the last decades of the nineteenth century facilitated the arrival of an antiques trade in
America because it became an instant rage, causing many people to discard their Victorian, Empire, and earlier styles to go "modern."
Those pieces became collectible antiques.   I recall many years ago visiting an Ante Bellum home in Alabama, and finding everything to be Empire mahogany.  The owner informed me that after the War Between the States her family was too poor to buy oak, and thus the great Empire pieces had remained in her home throughout the generations.
Today all phases of the past are popular, and for those newer generation buyers find oak particularly appealing, as this desk proved over the past weekend.
• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there,  or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."  Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement.
 

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