What is my antique secretary worth?

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Mearto Specialist:


Delia has nearly 30 years of experience at regional and international auction houses in the United States, and is also currently the editor of an art and antiques trade publication that tracks market trends, auctions and antiques shows. Delia is a generalist in glass, ceramics, silver and other metals, fine art, textiles, antiquities, wines and spirits, stamps and currency, collectibles and dolls and toys. Additionally, she is a specialist in 15th to 21st Century furniture from around the world. Her extensive professional network of appraisers, curators, dealers and collectors has proven to be an invaluable resource in her work for Mearto.

Have you recently inherited or purchased an antique secretary desk and want to know its value? Mearto provides quick and affordable online appraisals of antique secretary desks. All you have to do is click on the “Start Appraisal” button above and follow the steps to send us information about and images of your antique secretary desk. One of our qualified and experienced specialists will review and get back to you with a fair market and insurance value, typically within 48 hours.

Have questions about the valuation provided, or would you like some advice about selling your antique secretary desk? We are here to help! Our platform allows you to chat back and forth with a specialist to ensure that all of your questions are answered.

What are the different kinds of antique secretary desks?

An antique secretary desk is an old piece of furniture that was built from the 18th to the 19th century. When you start your search for an antique desk, you will stumble upon many variations. Get to know the different types of antique desks to choose from:

  • Bureau: This is the first type of antique typewriter table that was introduced into the market at the turn of the 18th century. The design integrates that of a chest drawer. Over time, there have been numerous designs introduced into the market including ones with writing desks that can be lifted off.
  • Antique Writing Table: This is the next type of secretary desk that was available sometime in the 18th century.
  • Partners Desk: The name for this type of secretary desk is derived from the fact that it was designed so two people can use it. It was innovated in England in the 19th century, which was designed for banking partners. This type of secretary desk made from a wide range of wood. A common characteristic is the presence of working drawers and cupboards on opposing sides.
  • Carlton House Desk: This is one of the best examples of classical English furniture. The original design was a creation of George Hepplewhite during the 18th century. He created the design for the Prince of Wales and was named after Carlton House in London. It comes with a practical design that is U-shaped with a wide writing surface. In addition, it comes with cubby holes, small drawers, and two side boxes.
  • Gillows Desk: This style of secretary desk is suitable for modern interiors due to the clean and minimal design. Other unique features to this desk include refined narrow top and fluted legs.
  • The Davenport: This is the final type of antique secretary desk to consider. This type of secretary desk gained popularity during the Sheraton period, which was from 1780 to 1800s. According to history, the name was derived from Captain Davenport who commissioned the first example for this type of desk. Davenport desk is characterized by a sloping desk atop a case of drawers. When you pull that desk out, it will provide a kneehole.

What do appraisers look for in an antique secretary desk?

  • Originality and Authenticity: Unfortunately, there are many replicas or reproduction furniture out there that are being sold as the authentic piece. This is what you need to be wary of when buying antique furniture. You must educate yourself first about the signature that is often associated with certain types of furniture, particularly those made by popular furniture makers. It is also important to ask about the provenance of the item. If it comes with paperwork, you can be more confident that the item is authentic (versus without it).
  • Type of Wood: There are several types of wood used for constructing antique secretary desks. Most are made of oak or cherry. If you choose to buy oak secretary desks or cherry secretary desks, they will vary in look, price, and durability.
  • Craftsmanship: This pertains to the amount of detail that went into the creation of the desk. From the handle to the drawer linings, these factors add to the value of the furniture.

What factors influence the value of an antique secretary desk?

The authenticity of wood secretary desks is the single most important factor that affects its market value. No matter how well-constructed the desk is, if it is a reproduction, it will still cost less than the original. There are several ways to authenticate the antique secretary desk.

The first tip is to look for evidence of age. Any flaws in the look or signs of aging are good signs when you are buying wood secretary desks. On the other hand, if the desk looks new or freshly painted, it is probably a reproduction.

As mentioned above, any paperwork that would support the claim to the furniture’s authenticity and provenance would help. Make sure to ask for it before you part with your money on antique desks.

Finally, you must choose a reputable antique dealer. The business must have proper certification. This will ensure that they abide by a strict code of conduct so you can guarantee the authenticity of the antiques you buy from them.

The value of an antique desk can also be heavily influenced by a number of things. When you buy antique typewriter table or desk, you need to thoroughly inspect the item. To the uninitiated, all antique furniture are the same. However, experts know that the smallest alteration can cause an antique object to lose authenticity, and eventually drop its value in the market too.

The first thing that can affect the value of vintage secretary desk is the furniture maker. There are a few notable furniture makers whose creations are coveted by antique collectors today, such as Chippendale, Roberts, Edwards, and Gillows. If you happen to own a piece of furniture from these famous furniture makers, you can expect the value of that antique item to increase significantly.

The quality of workmanship is another factor, too. This will explain why some antique secretary desks value is higher than others even when it was manufactured at around the same time. The level of detail and craftsmanship involved in making the furniture can have a significant impact.

Any other special features such as artist signature or detailing that are made with rare materials can add to its overall value. The rarer the furniture is, the higher its value!

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