More than £4m was realised at Christie’s European Decorative Arts sale this week. The star item in the furniture department was an antique dining table previously owned by Lady Randolph Churchill, which realised £115,250. In silver position was a partners antique desk – not by Lancashire firm Gillow’s, but designer James Gardner, located just over the border in Chester. Including buyer’s premium it realised £49,250 – almost double the upper estimate of £25,000.
The sale, titled “500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe” took place at Christie’s King Street premises in London, on March 17th. Among the Gillow’s furniture, a Canterbury cabinet, used for storing music manuscripts, sold for below its lower estimate of £3,000 – perhaps because its only use today would be as a magazine rack. However, £8,125 was realized for a folio antique desk. In Preston, a desk like this, which features a ratcheted hinged top that can be angled or laid flat, would be highly useful to a graphic designer or crafts enthusiast.
For those interested in French Ormolu antique desks in Lancashire , these reached heady sums. While a mid-18th century English walnut bureau struggled to meet its lower estimate of £5,000, late Victorian French antique desks did very well indeed, with estimates around the £10,000 mark. One ornate piece realised £16,250 against an estimate of £8,000 – £12,000, while another sold for £25,000 (estimate £12,000 – £15,000.)
In Preston, antique desks with similar acanthus-wreath and scrolling vine decoration can be purchased at antique dealers specializing in Renaissance Revival furniture – though at substantially lower cost than you’d pay at Christie’s.