Antiques Roadshow visited the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis Club on 1st April, but the undersized antique desk brought along for evaluation was certainly no April Fool’s joke. It turned out to be a rare Italian piece worth around £1,500.
Rain might have stopped play at Wimbledon when Antiques Roadshow filmed there last year, but that didn’t stop people bringing along their less weatherproof valuables for evaluation. A broken tennis racquet signed by John McEnroe supplied the April Fool’s element when the show was broadcast on Sunday night, but for avid collectors from Cumbria it was an antique desk from Italy which really drew the attention. However, the exquisitely made 18th century walnut piece, with its original locks, handles and feet, was a puzzle to the owners due to its diminutive size.
The sliding well, used to safely store papers, precluded it being a child’s desk, but it wasn’t an apprentice piece either. Lennox Cato gave the thumbs up to their third guess – a prie dieu, or prayer desk. Used in European Catholic homes and churches, these small antique desks were designed with a sloping shelf for a bible or prayer book and a cushioned place where you could kneel to pray. Lacking the ecclesiastical lines of 18th century church pieces, Lennox Cato gave the desk a valuation of £1,500, suggesting it was used by Italian Catholics to kneel and pray after coming home from work – a feeling shared by many hard-working residents in Lancashire!
Antique desks have many forms and functions. If you have an unusual antique mahogany partners desk , a Preston antique dealer can help with its history and valuation.
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