North Carolina Secretary, ca. 1790
Appraised Value: $60,000 - $125,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:42)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture, Musical Instruments
Ken Farmer Auctions, LLC
GUEST: This desk belonged to Kenneth Roberts, and we've had it for 50 years or more. And Kenneth Roberts was a real famous author in Maine.
GUEST: Known for his historical novels.
APPRAISER: So why don't we talk a little bit about the desk. It's North Carolina School. From 1780 to roughly 1800, there was a cabinetmaker in North Carolina whose name was William Seay. And he made a lot of furniture for a man whose name was Whitmell Hill. Whitmell Hill was very wealthy, and of course his initials are W.H. So for years, we thought that whoever made these was named W.H. But actually, William Seay made quite a bit of furniture for him because he had three houses he wanted to fill up down in North Carolina. The way the cornice is done, that decoration across the top of it.
APPRAISER: And that pediment, and that flame finial, and this beautiful molding at the top of the window lights, all of those things are characteristic of what William Seay did. The other thing that I love... is that Kenneth Roberts wrote in here.
APPRAISER: Now, he didn't date it.
APPRAISER: But he basically talks about where he bought it, and the fact that the desk was originally in Petersburg, Virginia. And that it was mentioned in the book Antique Mania. And this type of case furniture from that particular part of the country, you see a lot of this yellow pine secondary wood.
APPRAISER: It makes it hard to move, doesn't it?
APPRAISER: Extremely heavy. We took all the drawers out, we looked inside of it, we looked all behind it, because sometimes we find William Seay's initials.
GUEST: Oh, wow.
APPRAISER: And I couldn't find it, so I would want to look some more, but there's no doubt about the fact that he made this desk. Let's talk a little bit about condition. The really cool thing about this book is he talks about buying this.
APPRAISER: And he also talks about the things that were wrong with it when he bought it.
GUEST: The glass?
APPRAISER: Replacing some glass.
APPRAISER: They had to put about the top two-thirds of that finial on there. He did get it right. That's an accurate representation of what that finial would be. The only thing that I would criticize that restoration for was that they beveled these drawer fronts.
GUEST: I know.
APPRAISER: But you know, that's not a deal killer. That could be fixed like it never was there.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: It's got replaced brasses. In the book, it tells about the fact that they thought it would look really nice with new feet.
APPRAISER: Those feet are reduced, but I don't think they replaced the feet. Your primary wood is walnut. Your date is probably 1790, somewhere in that neighborhood. It's hard to say for sure. A conservative estimate at auction would be $60,000 to $90,000.
APPRAISER: And for insurance value, I would say $125,000.
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