Antique Desk


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Antique Drop Front table

Antique Drop Front Desk

There is a beautiful antique-looking piece of furniture in front of you. Do you know how to determine whether it’s an original or fake, and what technique did the craftsman used to make it?
It’s well worth to spend some time to look at a piece of furniture if you are planning to buy it. Imagine, for instance, that you liked this antique drop front desk – a charming writing desk, and would like to find out more about it.

1. Is it worth your while?

2. Is the shape beautiful?

3. Are the proportions graceful?

4. Does it have elegance at a glance?

The continuation of the assessment would include the following enquiries:

1. What condition is the piece in?

2. Has it ever been repaired? If it was restored, how good is it’s quality?

3. Look at patina. What is the quality of the finish? Is the wooden surface glowing softly?

4. Examine the elements. Look for the skill of a craftsman and attention to detail.

5. Look at the mounts. Usually the mounts of period pieces are gilt-bronze. And check if the mounts are finished properly and cast cleaned? Old mounts were sand cast mounts and finished to perfection. On the contrary, the mounts of more recent times are not so well finished, and the edges don’t have sand cast work done so meticulously.

6. What is the quality of the gilt? It is common that gilt on antigues does ware. You see traces only in the crevices. Gilt that is shiny or bright could indicate that it has been retouched.

Check the legs. Are the legs fine and elegant and beautifully turned? How do they lead into the body?

Does the desk work as it should? Do the drawers work as they should? Is it well put together? Are the drawers loose? Snug-fitting drawers might have been reworked.

Remove the drawers and give them the once over. Earlier pieces have a chamfered bottom; It is the later pieces that have a flat base.

10. Does the piece have a provenance, a known history that is important enough to increase its value?

 

Antique writing desk with old books and an oil lamp. It's regarded more than just a working piece of furniture, they are now often used as a thing of beauty and designer elegance.

This is also an Antique Drop Front Desk

 

Deciding what type of antique writing desk to collect, or buy, can be quite testing, as there are various kinds of desk on offer. Antique desks are an attractive item for many. And invites those who do not intend to use it for its intended function.  Antique desk is now seen as more than just a working piece of furniture, they are now often used as a thing of beauty and designer elegance.

Desk design has had to change radically, especially, since the computer era, to take into account extra cabling, fax machines, printers, key boards, etc. So, that the mod cons are conveniently situated and space is not compromised.  Therefore, it is important to consider the function you are looking for – from your desk.

Buying an antique desk  is much more than purchasing an article of furniture. You are investing in a part of history, handed down through the generations – really, it is a work of art. So, you are sure to gain on many levels with your purchase, whether for profit, or aesthetic purposes – you will benefit.

Which Of These Antique Desks Is Right For You?

The antique desk only started to go through major changes in its design as late as the 17th century. Back then, technology advanced rapidly, replacing the classic sloping lid box, or desk box.  Later, in the 18th century, came the bureau, a legged cabinet with a fold down front used as the writing surface.

Antique Secretary Desk

Bureau and desks essentially became one and the same thing, except, that later, additions were made in the form of extra storage, cubby holes and shelving above the writing surface.  This became known as the writing cabinet or bureau cabinet.  It's proper name  - “secretary desk”

Antique Secretary Desk

Bureau and desks, essentially, became one and the same thing, except that later additions were made in the form of extra storage, cubby holes and shelving above the writing surface.  This became known as the writing cabinet or bureau cabinet.  It’s proper name  – “secretary desk” was once a popular desk to have, and is now sought after by collectors and dealers.  The more modern reproductions tend to be smaller and lighter, and are made to disassemble for convenience.

Roll Top Antique Desk

Like the secretary desk, the roll top desk had extra storage, cubby holes and shelving, but instead of a folding writing surface the roll top has a cover that rolls up into the desk itself and covers the entire writing surface.

Roll Top Antique Desk

 

The term “desk” has become the generic word for all flat topped writing tables, and, as tables continued to evolve, a new version of the secretary desk came into being.  Like the secretary desk, the roll top desk had extra storage, cubby holes and shelving, but instead of a folding writing surface, the roll top has a cover that rolls up into the desk itself, and covers the entire writing surface.

Antique Pedestal Desk

These can make very strong and bold statements, and make a wonderful decorative centre piece for any home, but they usually carry a high price tag at antique shops and can command a premium figure at auction.

Antique Pedestal Desk

A classic writing desk – the pedestal desk – is usually made from either mahogany or oak. It can have drawers to the front, as well as the back. They can be ornate with decorative wood veneer, beading and leather hide tops. These can make very strong and bold statements, and make a wonderful decorative centre piece for any home, but they usually carry a high price tag at antique shops and can command a premium figure at auction.

A very sweet antique school desk in an old school.

School Desk Antique

How To Spot a Quality Antique Desk

 

When buying an antique desk, the things to look for are:

1.  The quality of the joinery (dovetail construction)

2.  General condition of the desk

3.  Knocks and scratches

4.  Veneer and beading intact

5.  If any handles are missing (check for original handles)

6.  Keys for the drawers, and to ensure that the drawers open and close easily, and are undamaged

7.  Check for any restoration, that has been carried out (enquire with whoever is selling – antique shop, auction house, etc.). Also, see that the top is in good condition.

8.  Check for maker’s name.

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