16 Apr 2021
December 6, 2011 - Filed under: Antiques News,Selling Antiques — Richard

A Japanese ebonised antique desk realised £12,700 against an upper estimate of £5,100 at Christie’s New York recently. The sale, Country House Elegance: An Architectural Vision was held on 21st November at the Rockefeller Plaza.

In Preston, antique desks made for Chinese and Japanese export are increasingly sought after, thanks to the current interest in all things oriental. However they still command reasonable prices, export furniture being of little interest to collectors of Imperial artworks, one of whom paid £8m for a Qianlong vase recently. As with many Imperial pieces, the vase was returned to its country of origin.

The Japanese desk was typical of the antique marquetry furniture Lancashire was importing during the late 19th and early 20th century, combining both Asian and European influences. Rolltop bureaux of this type were highly popular in small offices, and could be mass produced in large quantities at little cost in Britain. Better made by far were the imported pieces. During and following the Opium Wars, treaties were signed with China and, later, Japan. These events led to the development of high quality Anglo-Oriental furniture, such as the antique desk sold at Christie’s.

Lancashire antique dealers often have late Victorian rolltop desks for sale, combining the features of antique oak pedestal desks with those of tambour cylinder bureaux. Oriental examples are distinguished by their use of moulded cornices and inlaid friezes; stained, ebonised fruitwood and use of marquetry and parquetry motifs. They can sometimes be found in shops specialising in antique marquetry furniture. Preston is a good place to look.

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