Davenport Desk attributed to Herter Brothers, ca. 1870
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $12,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:53)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture, Musical Instruments
Ken Farmer Auctions, LLC
GUEST: My parents picked it up in Sisters, Oregon, and they were told that it was at the Hearst mansion. Other than that I really don't have any info on it.
APPRAISER: So now you've got it in your house.
APPRAISER: Okay, the davenport desk is an English form, but this is a very American piece of furniture. First of all, look at the quality of the woods. I love the cartouche here, the way this is inlaid, and all this nice incising. You know, one of the things that people call them davenport desks is because they usually have these drawers over on the side, so the space in the front is not wasted. And the other thing that... that really excited me when I first started looking at it was the way this panel is carved and it has this incising. The way these are done on the side here, these columns remind me a lot of a company that worked in New York called Herter Brothers. Now, the Herter brothers were German immigrants who came to America at a time when craftsmanship was being sort of blended in with the Industrial Age, and what they did was they made furniture for the wealthiest people in America, and they borrowed from all different kinds of styles-- French influence, German influence. This particular style is called Renaissance Revival. And they were noted, especially, for the quality of their workmanship-- very precision-oriented. One of them, Gustav, was trained somewhat as a cabinetmaker in Germany, and everything over there was controlled by guilds and very strict rules about the kind of wood you could use and the forms you could use, and it must have been a breath of fresh air to them to come to America and be able to produce this stuff and just express their craftsmanship however their clients wanted them to do it. One of the other features that I like about it is the little interior, and it's got a lift-up surface here for you to use for a writing surface, but not all meets the eye on this when you first walk up to it. When you did this, it just blew my mind, because not only is it a davenport, it's a mechanical davenport, and to me that takes it up a notch further. And you know what? These veneer pops wouldn't bother me at all because you could heat this up and get those to lay back down. And as far as all the different kinds of woods, it's got burl veneers, it's got maple, a little bit of rosewood over here on the side. This is probably satinwood. Actually it has seven or eight different kinds of woods in it. One of the other things that I noticed when I was looking at it is that some of the secondary wood is cherry, and that's very much Herter Brothers' characteristics-- very high quality craftsmanship, very high quality woods. In my opinion, this desk was made by the Herter Brothers probably around 1870. It's not signed anywhere, so we would have to say attributed to Herter Brothers. But I doubt many people would argue with us about that attribution. We talked about this amongst ourselves over here at the furniture table, and we feel very comfortable with a presale estimate for an auction purpose of $8,000 to $12,000 for this.
GUEST: Oh, wow. Jeez I know my parents didn't pay that much for it when they got it. They bought it for $875 probably about 15 years ago. Wow. That's a real deal.
APPRAISER: The Hearst connection is nice from a family point of view, but I don't think it adds anything as far as the real value of this because it is what it is without that attribution.
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