Pennsylvania Slant Lid Desk, ca. 1770

Value (2006) | $7,500 Retail

GUEST:
This has been in my husband's family, we think, from the late 1700s. We're not sure.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
And it's been handed down to the next generation.

APPRAISER:
Through the years.

GUEST:
Yes, that's correct.

APPRAISER:
So how long have you all had it?

GUEST:
Actually, we've had it about 20 years.

APPRAISER:
20 years. I'll tell you, it's nice to see because I happen to love tiger maple. This is one of the more ornate Pennsylvania interiors I've seen. It has across the top, deeply carved shelves with nice yellow pine and these neat little document drawers, right?

Do you ever use these?

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
Never use them?

GUEST:
Oh, they're great for storing.

APPRAISER:
They really are. This wonderful interior is meant to impress. And then, of course, you take out these drawers, and I know that you know where this is, because I found this nail inside...

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
So you know. So let's say a burglar comes in. He gets this lid open. They look inside, nothing there. Wrong, right?

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
This slides out...

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
This wonderful little box, maple box, and what I love about it, there it is. Now, it still doesn't look like it's anything, does it?

GUEST:
Right, right.

APPRAISER:
But look, as you know, you slide that out, that panel out-- it's a white pine panel-- to reveal these little drawers. And don't you love the fact that this is a 1770 desk and this looks like it's brand-new?

GUEST:
Yes, absolutely.

APPRAISER:
Because no air has gotten in there, right?

GUEST:
Actually, we found some paperwork in there, stating who the owner was at the present time of the desk.

APPRAISER:
When I was looking before the filming, I found $100 in there. Do you mind if I keep...

GUEST (laughing): No, I'd rather have that back.

APPRAISER:
I had to be honest. I mean, okay, I'll give it back. So let's put this back. But most burglars are not going to see that. And look at that-- it's locked right back in. Okay, we put the drawers back in. I love this figured maple. It's not just tigered, it has curly qualities on it. Isn't that great?

GUEST:
Yeah, it's beautiful.

APPRAISER:
This is an impressive interior; this is nice. So let's come down the front... and we look at these four molded drawers, which I love. And these ogee bracket feet. This is typical of a Pennsylvania bracket, somewhere kind of within a 50-mile radius of Philadelphia.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
Now, the front feet are original. The back foot has a shape on the back, an S curve, which is typical on Newport pieces, in Rhode Island.

GUEST:
Oh...

APPRAISER:
And the wood is different. The front feet actually has a tigering in it, the front foot does, the facing. This back foot facing and the one on the other side are a plain kind of cherry wood. And also they're a little crisper on the edge. They haven't been around as long. So probably within 60 years ago--

GUEST:
Oh...

APPRAISER:
--the back feet got replaced, okay, and it's a different color underneath and side, too. Now, the drawers have these nice Chippendale brasses on them, and if I look at the back, I'm peeking at the back of the inside here, let's see-- there's an extra hole there. Which shows that there was a different set of posts that had a different width. So these brasses are period, but they're not original to this desk.

GUEST:
I see-- okay.

APPRAISER:
So that affects value a little bit. It's nice to have them original, you know?

GUEST:
Oh, yeah.

APPRAISER:
And as far as a maker, we don't know exactly who made it, but this was a very good shop that was showing off, doing this beautiful interior, okay, a very good cabinetmaker. But because it has the great interior, even with the replaced brasses and even having this original surface cleaned off... But with the replaced back feet...

GUEST:
Right, right.

APPRAISER:
You know, those two feet being replaced, it still is an important enough piece for a collector, okay?

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Some collectors are going to say no, they can't have a piece with replaced rear feet.

GUEST:
Sure.

APPRAISER:
Others will say: it's so great... The good news is nobody's ever going to find out, because you're never going to sell it.

GUEST:
That's right.

APPRAISER:
But just to put it in context, in my shop, I would price this piece with the replaced rear feet, at about $7,500.

GUEST:
Okay, okay, that's great.

APPRAISER:
Okay? Right?

GUEST:
Yeah. Yeah.

APPRAISER:
Now, let me tell you if the two feet were original, it'd be...it'd be pretty easily about $25,000.

GUEST:
No kidding!

APPRAISER:
Yeah, big difference with a couple feet.

GUEST:
Yeah, but that's okay.

APPRAISER:
It doesn't matter.

GUEST:
It's going to stay in the living room.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Keno Auctions
New York, New York
Appraised value (2006)
$7,500 Retail
Event
Philadelphia, PA (August 05, 2006)
Period
18th Century
Form
Desk
Material
Maple

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