English Lap Desk & Contents, ca. 1835
I inherited this lap desk from my grandmother's estate. At the time I inherited it, I was not aware of the drawer that had all of these contents in them, and it wasn't until about five years later that a friend of mine pointed out the drawer.
Well, these lap desks, as you know, are basically the early-19th-century version of a laptop computer.
And these were transportable. On the outside, here, you had a writing surface. These had lids and opened, and you'd write your letters here. Inside, we had this glass inkwell, the original inkwell, which would've kept the ink. This would've had a feather quill-- it's amazing, but this still has-- it's the original red wax, and the letter "W" that he sealed his letters with. And you can see the candle burns, probably from the 19th century, where he dripped that red wax and sealed his letters. It's really just incredible. Here we have-- that was inside this side drawer-- this little booklet, which is inscribed "John R. Wilder's Book, Plainfield Academy"-- which is probably Connecticut-- November 9, 1830. And inside, we see how industrious and hardworking he was. All of these debits-- he was training to be an accountant, and this is his schoolbook. It's in incredible mint condition with this marbleized paper on the top. Over here, we have-- once he graduated from the academy, we have this calligraphic booklet where he's depicted this beautiful swan with a long neck, and here we have "John Wilder, Fall River, January 1835." He moved to Fall River, and inside, he practiced his penmanship. He's written down these thoughts and certain poems down in this little booklet. Incredible document. It seems that what happened-- inside is this map, which shows North and South Carolina, and here is Savannah. It seems he was intrigued by Savannah. And what's amazing is that we have this letter with a silver dollar. "This silver dollar was all the money I had in the world "when I landed in the first time in Savannah, "a poor, penniless boy "with nothing but my own exertions to look forward to. "I have kept it sacred. I landed in Savannah February 22, 1835." Signed Jonathan Wilder. Well, we don't know for sure, but what I really hope is that he was successful after he arrived there. We have this Central Railroad and Banking Company receipt from sometime around 1860, so it's possible that he ended up working for Central Railroad. Have you had this appraised ever?
It was appraised at the dividing of my grandmother's estate.
And at that time, it was appraised at $100.
Okay, well, this desk, because it's a time capsule, because of this documentation, probably worth in the area of between $3,000 and $5,000.
Mm-hmm. That's fabulous. That's exciting news.
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