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Robert S.
Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 5116
Experience:  Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
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I have a antique desk, that folds down into a cabinet, can

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I have a antique desk, that folds down into a cabinet, can you tell me what it is called
JA: Don't you just love the idea of finding something valuable in your attic? I do, but I think all I have up there is junk my brothers abandoned before they left home. Always a good idea to check things with the Antiques Appraiser, though. Tell us what else you do know and the Antiques Appraiser will be able to better assist you.
Customer: I really don't know much, this cabinet has a section for letters on the top, with a door that closes , and lower section , that has a fold out piece that makes the top , it has spindle legs , and it is put together with square nails.
JA: Is there anything else the Antiques Appraiser should be aware of?
Customer: I don't think so ?

Hi! My name is ***** ***** I would be happy to help with your desk. Could you very kindly attach a photo and some close-ups of the detail and decoration.

Here's how:

http://ww2.justanswer.com/help/how-do-i-send-photo-or-file-expert-0

Many thanks,

Robert.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Sending the video I hope this comes through

It's probably because the file size is too big.

I did get one image, this one.

Did you send others?

Can you very kindly attach a photo that shows the feet (they are cropped out of the image of your first photo)

Also, another showing what it looks like with the top down and so I can see the condition and color of the top surface.

And does the front panel hinge forward and slide underneath or form the writing surface? Again, a photo of that set-up would be great too.

Many thanks,
Robert

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
No I think the video is to lage

Okay, best to stick to still photos. I don't think there's a way to attach a video clip. The only way would be to upload it to YouTube and then give me the link where you put it on YouTube, so I can watch it.

Hope this makes sense.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Best to stick to photos for me

No problem,

Can you very kindly attach a photo that shows the feet (they are cropped out of the image of your first photo).

Also, another showing what it looks like with the top down and so I can see the condition and color of the top surface.

And does the front panel hinge forward and slide underneath or form the writing surface? Again, a photo of that set-up would be great too.

Many thanks,
Robert

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
it has a piece that folds to make a writing surface, it also has 2 thin pieces that pull out to hold additional piece but
It is missing

Thanks for the extra description, can you attach a photo of what you're describing.

Also one showing the top surface when closed.

And one of the feet.

Many thanks,
Robert

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I sent The photos you requested did you get them

No sign of them this end, I'm afraid. Did you email them?

By all means do so, but it does take a little longer.

The only address that gets to me is:

*****@******.***

Mark the email for my attention, Robert S. in the Antiques category otherwise they won't know who to send it to. I work "on" rather than "for" JustAnswer as an independent agent so all emails have to go through a third party to protect everyone's privacy. It may take up to 24 hours, but I'll let you know as soon as I see it/them this end.

Many thanks!

Robert

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Hi Robert ,
On Friday I had my daughter send photos of the desk , did you receive them ?

Yes, I've just seen the photos in my inbox. Thanks so much for sending those.

I'll have a full answer for you shortly.

Best wishes,
Robert.

This is an interesting old piece of furniture. Because it's not a standard form, a piece like this would be classified as "folk art furniture" made by a hobby cabinetmaker, rather than a factory made production piece.

As for age, looking at the way the cabriole legs are finished, and the molded block panel on the front, and other features of its construction, I would date this piece to mid-20th century, no older than the 1930s.

This type of dual or multifunction, convertible furniture, in this case one that can be changed from a table to a desk is known as "metamorphic furniture" and as such has its own following of collectors.

A convertible desk such as this is also sometimes referred to as a "campaign desk", in other words an item of furniture that is designed to be portable and practical enough to be used in the field during military campaigns.

As for value, if the desk were repaired so that it folded and unfolded as it should, and you were to see it for sale in an antique store, say, it would have a full retail price of $450. This is also the replacement value for insurance purposes.

Expect to get 30% - 40% of this if you were to sell at a good local antique auction.

I do hope this helps!

Please let me know if you'd like me to explain or expand on any of the above, I would be glad to.

Best wishes,
Robert.

Customer: replied 30 days ago.
Not sure the age is right, in doing repair
We found it is put together with square
Nails , wouldn't that indicate an earlier
Piece

You are right, square nails can indicate great age, yes, but it depends whether the nails are handmade or not.

Square nails (and rose-head nails) have always been available, and can still be bought today, from specialist hardware suppliers for hobby carpenters wishing to use traditional materials in their furniture, also wooden pegs and the like, so one has to take into account many other components when dating a piece of furniture.

Customer: replied 30 days ago.
Ok I have one one question,
What would you estimate the age to be with cast roller inserts the same 1930?

Can you attach a photo of the cast roller inserts. I don't see them in the photos you attached.

The brass hardware I can see is:

(a) the lock and lock plate for the table top, (b) the locks to close the boards covering the pigeon hole compartments and (c) the two bolts which I assume are meant to engage in, and slide along, the slot in the boards inside the cabinet.

Thanks for the excellent closeups of the hardware.

Whoever made this was definitely a hobby enthusiast as the bolts look hand made. However, I still maintain it's of the period I stated. It's certainly not 19th century as the screw slots look machine cut rather than hand cut. Also, if it had been made by a professional cabinetmaker in the 19th century the screw heads would have been properly countersunk into the backplate of the lock and bolt. Just a small detail, but a very telling one.

The only query I have is where those steel split tubes go? Can you attach a photo of where they fit into the structure and what slots into them?

Many thanks.

Robert.

Customer: replied 29 days ago.
That came from the leg where the roller inserts

I see, so the legs are raised on casters, I understand. I missed seeing that in the photos.

Is the caster ceramic or brass? Again a photo would be great.

Thanks for the extra two photos. So there are no casters? Just the holes and the split tube inserts?

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
casters are missing , inserts are all missing but one

Okay. I understand. It's going to be hard to date the piece just with those split sockets on their own as they have always been available from restoration hardware suppliers.

What IS interesting, though, that shows up in your photo, is the condition of the ends of the legs.

Although they do show minor marks, there is nothing like the marks that one typically sees on antique furniture (over 100 years old). This is called "broom knock" (for obvious reasons) and if you look at old 19th century furniture you'll see the scars and marks of a thousand brooms around the base of the legs. That, and the channeled chamfering of the leg using a mechanical router (rather than carved by hand) indicates a no-older-than 1930s date.

Robert S. and other Antiques Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
I thank you very much, expecialy for your patience, I had the same thought that it was not a manufactured piece , someone was being handy . I appreciate you expert help

You are very welcome, happy to have helped. I quite understand you're wanting to be absolutely sure. A hobby furniture piece can often give mixed signals like this.

Best wishes,
Robert

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