Salesman’s Sample Rolltop Desk, ca. 1890

Value (2011) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
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GUEST:
My great-great- great-grandfather's. It came from western New York.

APPRAISER:
Whereabouts?

GUEST:
Chautauqua Lake, Jamestown, New York. Back in those days, they were into the woodworking business and that was how they made their living, or their way. And these were samples that they took door-to-door, selling them to individuals, and then they would go back and make them.

APPRAISER:
Jamestown, New York, was a major center for furniture manufacturing in the late 19th century.

GUEST:
Yes, sir, absolutely.

APPRAISER:
It's a wonderful miniature, or salesman's sample, rolltop desk. And it is in its original carrying case, which is one of the real bonus features for any salesman's sample. The rolltop desk is an iconic piece of American furniture from the late 19th century, and it was really a mechanical marvel. The heyday of rolltop desks was in the 1890s, and they were made into the '20s and '30s. But this definitely dates from that 1890 period. The roll itself is a tambour of wood, wood slats on canvas. It actually goes back in and disappears. That's a typical rolltop style. A lot of times there would be little drawers here also. What really makes this desk a little unusual is it has this feature here, which is an opening file system that actually slides back into the desk to disappear. All the drawers open, so you can see exactly how it all works. It has a couple of condition issues, but I would put an auction estimate, which I think would be conservative, of $4,000 to $6,000.

GUEST:
My goodness. That's awesome.

APPRAISER:
Yep, it's wonderful.

GUEST:
But I like the piece.

APPRAISER:
Oh, good.

GUEST:
So it probably won't be for sale.

APPRAISER:
Okie doke.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Appraised value (2011)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Event
Tulsa, OK (July 23, 2011)
Period
19th Century
Form
Desk, Model
Material
Wood

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