FINE ENGLISH GEORGIAN MAHOGANY KNEEHOLE DESK, MID 18TH CENTURY C. 1740-60
Exceptional state of preservation - retaining original brasses and untouched feet; only the desk is being offered in this listing, the chair shown to give a sense of scale
Item # 110105PII25
This is a remarkably well preserved English Georgian Mahogany Kneehole Desk from the third quarter of the 18th century. It is crafted of well figured solid single boards of Mahogany on the top and sides - there is no veneer on this desk, just solid boards of full grain mahogany. A simply molded edge runs the perimeter of the top, each corner scalloped. Each drawer is hand dovetailed front and back, with thin oak frame construction and thin oak drawer bottoms - all drawers are fully original and lack any adjustments and restorations to the secondary construction.
Glowing hand forged brass hardware adorns each drawer, appearing to have never been removed from the piece. Inside each drawer, as well as the tiny door in the kneehole area, silver metal locks are secured and functional. Each lock appears to be original, each uniquely cut on the right hand corner for all small drawers - it would appear the craftsman was presented with the challenge of making the lock of his choice fit the small space in conjunction with the pull hardware, and overcame this but cutting the corners of each lock. Hand made screws are visible throughout the lock hardware. While we cannot say for certain if the key is original, it is of the period, hand made and very similar in metal color to that of the locks. Each drawer is lip-molded and slides flawlessly in and out of the desk.
Just below the top drawer is a secret drawer compartment, appearing to be part of the frame design, but actually pulls outward smoothly as an extra hand dovetailed drawer. The wide top drawer pulls out to reveal a full dust shelf, protecting drawers below from saw dust and other debris as it opens and closes. The first few inches are solid mahogany, through which the inner boards of the desk tenon through, joining the frame permanently and invisibly. A small prospect door opens in the knee hole on original brass hinges secured with original hand cut screws to reveal a compartment divided by a single oak shelf.
The desk rests over bracket feet, each entirely original with all original blocking as well. When looking at the desk from the underside, the unfinished hand craftmanship is left undisturbed. Some of the feet have been resecured with screws from the underside, noted in the photos, though the feet themselves have been preserved. The underside is secured to the case with rose head nails are driven into the mahogany side boards above. The back of the desk is lined with several thin oak boards, each with grains running perpendicular to the base, tacked with tiny brads and nearly black with oxidization. Later nails secure these backboards, probably readjusted for shrinking along the grains.
This is an incredible find, quite rare in this condition and with this outstanding color and patination. With almost every aspect of the desk maintained with full originality and no adjustments, this is an acquisition for the serious collector and home decorator alike. It's petite dimensions and stunning visual appeal make it suitable for any formal setting, with a very broad array of design purposes it can aptly fill: it is the perfect width to rest between two windows in a small room as a strikepoint piece in a living area, a wonderful bedroom chest of drawers with desk functionality and as a small desk in a study. This is a special piece you and your family will certainly cherish for generations to come.
Identical example (though with inferior replaced brasses) sold at Wilkinson's Auctioneers, Doncaster, UK (April 27th, 2014, lot 739) for $4,740 inc. premium
See British Antique Furniture, John Andrews, 1989, p. 236 for an identical example - valuation of 6,000-8,000 GBP
Measurements: 30 1/4" wide x 19 3/16" deep x 30 3/4" high
Condition Report: Finish very attractive, probably refinished in the last century with a nice polished finish. Minor scratches typical with any antique piece, more around the feet and corners; typical blemishes from regular wear and use. Original hardware, hinges, feet - the key may not be original: we believe the locks are original, but these too could be early replacements of perfect fit. Repairs here and there, including some minor patching to the mahogany, all done quite well - several drawer lips repaired, minor repairs to corners, back bracket feet resecured with modern screws. Left lowest drawer lip has a little crack in the top edge of the lip.
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Period American Furniture, French Furnishings, Fine Nineteenth Century Art and Sculpture
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