Victorian oak partners desks are eternally popular – but sometimes, a lighter touch is needed, or so it seemed at PFK’s winter sale, where a ladies kneehole writing desk with an estimate of £800 – £1200 realised £900. The same sum was paid for a 19th century pedestal Pembroke writing table – though the two styles were totally dissimilar.
Neither of these fine pieces of writing furniture represented the typical antique oak partners desk that Cumbrian sales sometimes attract, yet both attracted plenty of attention. They were a fitting reminder of the sheer innovation and scale of design that occurred during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Long before bankers in Preston had antique oak partners desks in their offices, ladies on country estates were politely and efficiently keeping books of their own – though probably with not quite the same attention to business correspondence. The Georgian walnut pedestal desk above has a cramped knee-hole aperture that would make most modern owners sit sideways, the form clearly demonstrating the kneehole dressing table from which it evolved. Interestingly, what appears to be a modesty panel is, in fact, a cupboard, highly impractical during use!
When dating antique desks, the wood can tell you a lot. Walnut was commonly used for early pedestal desks, which were more decorative than functional. Antique mahogany pedestal desks by the Lancashire firm of Gillows arrived slightly later. As regards the Pembroke writing table, this had the same space-saving design as a Pembroke dining table, but in desk form.
Antique dealers in Preston stock antique desks in a wide selection of styles and sizes, suitable for both home and business.
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