American antique professionals are mourning the passing of Wendell D. Garrett, who died on 14th November, aged 83.
What Wendell Garrett didn’t know about antique mahogany pedestal desks could be written on a postage stamp. A senior vice-president of Sotheby’s and long-time editor of The Magazine Antiques, he was also a familiar face on the PBS version of Antiques Roadshow, having been in every episode since it launched in 1997. A leading expert on American decorative arts (also called Americana), and the writer of several books on the subject, he originally wanted to be a doctor but switched to history – and then antiques – after contracting a rare form of muscular dystrophy at the age of 19.
Known for his courtly manner and impeccable dress sense, Garrett was often to be seen in a wheelchair during his appraisals on Antiques Roadshow, where he brought excitement to even the tattiest Victorian oak pedestal desk . As Cumbrian residents will appreciate, the value in antiques often lies in their historical rather than monetary value, something he was always keen to emphasise when a treasured family heirloom turned out to be worth somewhat less than the owner had hoped. On one occasion, he valued an antique chest at $10,000 – $15,000, before revealing it could have been worth up to $300,000 were it not in such poor condition.
Antique dealers in Lancashire have antique dining chairs and other pieces that closely resemble the Federal American furniture Wendell Garrett was so passionate about.
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