Early 19th C Grain Painted Step Back Drop Front Desk or Secretary in Original Surface
The case is pine and the secondary wood is poplar. The desk is built in two sections for ease of transport; the two sections were originally held together by four screws (although I have lived with the two pieces simply sitting in place without being attached), two screws were originally inserted through the back of the top, the other two through the inside of the top. The front legs are turned and the back legs are tapered, and the top has a lovely, simple crown moulding. The two large deep drawers have delicate hand cut half blind dovetails on the front and through dovetails on the back. The interior of the top portion is fitted with shelves, a top row of pigeon holes, a section of gracefully curved dividers, and a small drawer that is also fitted with dividers. Both the top desk cabinet and the two drawers lock, the bottom drawers with what I believe is an original key, the top section with an old replacement. The drawers have their original escutcheons, the top has none. There are two tiny antique cut nails on the left inside wall of the cabinet (very old) where I always hung the keys.
The finish on this lovely piece of country furniture is a standout. The body, top, and legs retain their original dry red paint. The drawer fronts and the panels in the upper cabinet are grain painted in golden brown and yellows to simulate tiger maple. The back and interior of the cabinet were left in unpainted natural wood with the exception of the interior drawer front and the surround of the drop down writing surface.
CONDITION is wonderful. This is a hard working country piece and one should not expect a fine French polish... it has been lovingly used for almost 200 years and looks it with numerous dings, pings, spatters, scratches, and even the names of three children penciled inside one of the large drawers, Anna, Oliver, and Mary. It's fun to imagine all the homework this desk must have seen. The writing surface may have been covered with a skin or felt blotter, but it has obviously been used as it now is for many years judging from the ink stains. There are also some ink stains inside the drawers. There is expected wear on the leading edge of the bottom section where the desk rests when open. The back boards which are attached with hand wrought nails have shrunk with age and separated which you can see in the close photograph of the interior, however, this is not really noticeable when the piece is in place against a wall and is testament to honest age in any case. Please look at the photos. Circa 1820's - 1840's. Measures 59 1/4" tall overall, with the height to the top of the bottom piece being 32 1/4". The overall width including the crown molding is 35". The depth of the bottom section excluding the drawer knobs is 19 1/4", and the measurements of the overall drop down work surface is 33" x 24".
It's difficult to find honest country pieces that have been in service continuously like this one that have not been stripped or resurfaced in any way. This wonderful desk has all the fantastic, original character you could wish for. Its beautiful, worn surface speaks volumes about the many lives it has touched, and stands ready to serve its next family for generations to come. Enjoy!
Item ID: RL-951
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