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Identifying an Antique Desk

Category Antiques
It can be difficult to identify vintage and antique furniture. Checking the bottom of the desk and of the drawers might reveal a manufacturer's stamp or seal. Scour the internet for similar pieces. Otherwise contact a dealer or appraiser. This is a guide about identifying an antique desk.
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By 0 found this helpful
February 22, 2018

Does anyone know what type of desk this is or where it may have been made? I can't find any markings.

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February 23, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

The picture is kinda dark but it sure looks like a really neat desk. You will probably have to ask an antique dealer or get an on-line appraisal.

  • I have never seen a desk like this but it is possible there is something missing that would help identify it.
  • If you have any antique shops in your area you may be able to show them several photos and they might have something similar in one of their books.
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  • You can many times get free on-line appraisals and although they may not be accurate in the true value (what an item can bring in a sale) they can many times tell you something about the piece itself.
  • Here is a link that has several sites listed but many of them you will have to "log-on" to be able to seek a free appraisal. As far as I have gone it appears these are legitimate sites and give very good information.
  • antiques.lovetoknow.com/Free_Antique_Appraisals_Online

Hopefully you will find out what type of desk you have so please reply or comment and let us know what you find out.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 22, 2019

I would like to know about this piece of furniture that was left to me by my mother.

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January 22, 20190 found this helpful

It is a beautiful piece of furniture. I can't make out the mark. To determine age, look at how the drawers are put together.

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Pins and dovetails were the way drawers were made before 1860, when machines took over. Here is a helpful article to read: home.howstuffworks.com/.../how-to-identify-antique-wooden-furniture...

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January 22, 20190 found this helpful

This is an amazing piece!! I suggest taking good photos or the piece if you can, to a trusted antique dealer and getting his/her professional expertise on exactly what you have.

I have never seen a piece quite like it! It has the spools, the drop leave, the cubbies!! In the right market with the provenance correctly documented, I am thinking it will fetch a decent amount for you.

The challenge with pieces like this are it may be a one of a kind (meaning it has been modified over the years). Also for selling, the average person will be more willing to pay the true value to a dealer, than a "lay person".

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Please post back what you learn! I am so excited to hear about it. Just a stunning piece!!!

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January 22, 20190 found this helpful

this is a lovely secretary with many compartments made in nice mahogany wood and it looks to be at least 80 years old

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January 23, 20190 found this helpful

Looks like a really nice desk - these were made to be used - very functional.

  • Your pictures are a little dark so some details are not very clear.
  • It may be expensive to try and get an on site appraisal and also may be difficult to find someone that has true knowledge of this particular piece.
  • You may be able to get an online appraisal and some of these are free. You would probably be surprised at what you find out without spending a "penny".
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  • If you decide to take this extra step you will need clearer, lighter pictures and also be sure to show a full front view (without the stool) and show it opened and closed as well as good side views (full side view).
  • Show all markings inside and out as well as the back of the desk. The more photos you show the more information you will receive.
  • You should also give dimensions and state anything you have knowledge of as far as age, where (city) it was purchased (maybe where your mother lived when purchased) as all of this is important.
  • www.whatsellsbest.com/.../antiques.html
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By 0 found this helpful
August 17, 2018

Do you know anything about this desk? Such as the age and value?

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August 17, 20180 found this helpful

I cant find the company, so it may be out of business. Your best bet is to bring the pictures to a dealer.

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August 17, 20180 found this helpful

Hi Judy,
Thank you for taking the time to answer my guestion. Now I have another question. How do I find a dealer? Lynda

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PS I live around Buffalo NY.

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August 17, 20180 found this helpful

www.furniturecityhistory.org/.../colonial-manufacturing-co

Here's a link about the company, which was based in Michigan and closed in 1983.

If you get to the Smithsonian, they have some of their catalogs on file:

americanhistory.si.edu/.../SILNMAHTL_12186

You may be able to find an original ad for the item! That would be cool!

There are lots of Pinterest pages devoted to the comoany's secretary style writing tables, which is one of the names I have heard this style of desk called. The legs I call spinit style...like piano...I have heard some desks like this refered to as piano style because of how it opens.

You may want to sort thru the Pinterest pages to pin down the age of your piece, which is lovely, by the way. I adore this style desk!!

You have a neat find. Some of the pieces still have value, but not all. I don't see an exact match at the moment in eBay's sold section. If you check back often, you can get an idea of what the are valued at in today's market.

Thanks for sharing this sweet item!

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August 19, 20180 found this helpful

There are quite a few of this style desk available so it is not rare and most were made during the approximate same era and most were mahogany.
This style is usually referred to as; spinet, writing or secretary desk.
Colonial Mfg. Company was only well known for making all kinds of expensive clocks and making side furniture was a very tiny portion of their business and most pieces were reproduced over and over until a small change was made that could still be produced with the same cuts and dies of the previous style piece.

If you are really interested in the company history, they produced several books that can still be purchased today or maybe downloaded for free.
Here is a 12 page (of 45 pages) link that describes their history but it is a very boring article unless you are really into the history of their clock manufacturing.

docs.nawcc.org/.../407_34_46.pdf

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By 0 found this helpful
January 23, 2019

I was wondering how much this old writing table was worth?

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January 24, 20190 found this helpful

You need to know who manufactured it. Look on the bottom for markings. Once you know that, you will be able to determine age and value.

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January 24, 20190 found this helpful

You have a stunning piece and I believe it is quite valuable.

It looks very much like this 1800s desk that sold in the UK:

www.sellingantiques.co.uk/.../

Perhaps you can contact this company via email or if you are in the UK via phone and have them look at it and perhaps sell it for you.

The match is not exact, but in very old pieces like this you may never find an EXACT because 1. they are rare 2. previous owners sometimes made their own modifications to them. For example, I think the blue leather is not original (which may or may not lower the value).

Selling a piece this valuable on your own will be a challenge as most people don't want to pay an "average joe or jane" a large amount of cash for a piece, but they are when there is a dealer backing it.

Your desk is amazing!! I have always wanted to see one like it in person.

If you want to do your own research first, these are often referred to as kidney shaped women's writing desks.

Please post back what you learn and how it sells. I am thinking at auction through a dealer you will fetch a nice tidy sum!!!

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January 28, 20190 found this helpful

Beautiful desk...
I believe you will have to have this appraised by an very experienced appraiser to find out the true current value.
You do not say if you plan to sell but selling it for its true value may take some time as furniture - even nice pieces - are usually slow sellers.

  • Here is a similar desk that is listed (in the UK where this type of furniture is very popular) so you might want to keep check on this one to see if it sells.
  • www.sellingantiques.co.uk/.../
  • An "in person" appraisal will probably be expensive but there are some very good sites that offer free appraisals and also offer some advice on where or how to go about selling your piece.
  • For the best information, you will need several good pictures; showing the front (full front) and ones with the desk opened and also closed, close up of top, sides and also the back.
  • You should also have measurements and supply any information you have on the age, where it came from, any names of cities/countries the past owners may have been. All of this is not necessary but all information helps.
  • This is some trouble but this is a valuable piece and you should try to find out its true value whether you wish to keep it or sell it.
  • The appraisers will give you insurance value but you can ask for resale value also.
  • www.whatsellsbest.com/.../antiques.html
  • Barneby's also gives appraisals but they charge $17 but they supply a lot of very good information.
  • www.barnebys.com/.../
  • I believe you will be very happy with the information these appraisers supply. You should send information to several sites.
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By 0 found this helpful
January 21, 2018

I just bought this desk and I'm considering refinishing it. I'd like to find the value of it before I do though. I would rather not diminish the value by painting it. It's in almost perfect condition. Solid oak I think. It is 45 inches wide x 18 inches deep. I've looked in the drawers and on the back, but I can't find any identifying marks to indicate a year or a brand. Any thoughts?

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January 21, 20180 found this helpful

Take the drawers out and look on the sides. The marking can also be on the bottom.

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May 26, 20180 found this helpful

there is an oak desk similar at antiquesworld.co.uk/.../
check it out to get an idea of value, it may help as it has very similar features to your desk.

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Anonymous
November 17, 20180 found this helpful

I have one similar and know nothing. The ornateness is more on mine in the front yet sides and back are plain Jane. Mine is not in good shape as someone may have shallacked over the leather and the wood is extremely dried out. If you get more info on yours, I would love to know.

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By 0 found this helpful
December 4, 2018

I have a Bayveiw Michigan writing desk with fold down front and middle drawer. It has the number 76 on it. The wood is reddish in color. How can I determine the value?

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December 4, 20180 found this helpful

The best way to find the value is to locate an exact version of yours on either eBay or one of the furniture auctions and see what it SOLD for. Never use asking price to set a value. I can list something for a million dollars, but if someone only pays me $1 then that is today's value! That is the new wave of the market!!

Once you find a sold example, that will give you today's current market value. Not all are advertised with the number, so research an be time consuming as you have to match photos.

Be sure to search it as Bay View and bayview as I have seen them listed both ways. I have also seen them listed just by style--like spinet leg or spinet desk or ladies writing table. Get creative in your search and it will shorten the research time!

Without a picture, I can't only give you some samples of what is out there...

The ones I am giving you are UNSOLD, so you will have to watch them to see if they sell and for how much:

www.chairish.com/.../bay-view-furniture-co-antique-mahogany...

archive.knoxnews.com/.../joe-rosson-spinet-desk-likely-made...

This one has a number that isn't yours, but I am including it because it gives some good info about the company:

archive.knoxnews.com/.../joe-rosson-spinet-desk-likely-made...

Worthpoint has one that sold, but i recently learned they changed their rules and I am not able to pay for their membership at the moment...if you know someone who has one, this one was actually sold, but you have to join and pay now to get the particulars (GRRR):

www.worthpoint.com/.../antique-mahognay-ladies-writing-desk...

These are neat pieces and some have held their value. Condition is everything with these, so if yours is in good shape, it will fetch more than one that has been well loved.

You are also probably best to sell it through a trusted vintage furniture dealer as if it is one of the more valuable ones, people on the Facebook or other sites may want to scam you with payment and you don't need that.

Post back what you learn and a photo if you are so inclined.

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December 4, 20180 found this helpful

A similar desk was reduced to $540 and did not sell yet.www.chairish.com/.../bay-view-furniture-co-antique-mahogany...

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