10 Apr 2021
January 21, 2010 - Filed under: Antique Desks,Antiques News,Auctions — Richard

The BBC News Channel this week reported on some very smelly antiques going up for sale at a local antiques auction. The two antique desks, a clerk’s table and a roll top, have been heavily used at Grimsby fish docks for 100 years. The smell comes from them being constantly used by fish handlers where fish oil over time has soaked into the wood.

Auctioneer Paul Cooper said:

‘Even in the recent spell of sub-zero weather you got the niff in our warehouse at ten paces……Put them in a warm room and I think they would clear the place.’

He added however that the desks were actually very striking to look at, like something out of a Dickens novel and that if they had come from a bank or accountants, then they could make several hundred pounds apiece, but because they came from the fish docks, this may detract from their value.

With the fishy aroma potentially standing between the owners and a good profit, there were some suggestions how to get rid of the smell. A local antiques dealer who had worked in the British Museum said that raw onions could neutralise the smell and suggested cleaning them first then leaving the onions to do their work. However he could not say how long this process would take. Other natural neutralisers like lemon and beeswax perhaps could also help to neutralise the smell although of course care has to be taken when restoring antique furniture.

Advice on restoring problematic antique furniture can be obtained through consulting Lancaster, Cumbria and other UK antique dealerships.

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