Need information on this antique Secretary

OakleyJanuary 22, 2011

This is a cross post I did on the Decorating board. I'd be so grateful if you all would take a look and tell me if you're familiar with this type of secretary and give me any information you may have.


Here is a link that might be useful: Antique Secretary

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cyn427 (zone 7)


    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 3:42PM
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Not sure what you need to know....oak secretary desk, very likely dating about 1910.
Looks like it's been refinished.
Nice piece.
Linda c

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 4:56PM
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In their day, these were referred to as combination bookcases, since they combined a bookcase and a desk. It was a very popular item in many home libraries and offices and the asymmetrical mirror and bent glass doors do indicate it's probably dating from the first decade of the 20th century. Lovely, lovely piece. I agree with may not have been stripped down to refinish, but it appears to have had some finish coat added, perhaps for protection.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 1:13PM
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The ones that I've seen with the original finish are usually coated with a dull, blackish/mahogany varnish (or more likey, shellac) that's fairly easy to strip.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 5:05PM
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My MIL may have refinished it, but it was her mother's and I know she didn't. I took a close look at it and I can't tell.

I still wish I knew what the carving is on it, it sure doesn't look like "The North Wind."

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 7:52PM
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Likely a gargoyle.

Here is a link that might be useful: gargoyle sketch

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 9:04PM
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If you google the Sheboygan Novelty Company Catalog you will find a link to their 1904 catalog. Go to page 5, Item Number 172. You will see this item.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 12:57PM
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Wow.......isn't it wonderful how the internet can reach out and touch people like you who can supply the maker and even the original piece? Amazing. Thank you for posting. It also made me breath a sigh of relief I actually nailed the decade and common name for that type of piece. It can sometimes be hairy sticking your neck out to venture an opinion. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 3:01PM
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It was totally coincidence that I found this. I just bought one of these pieces at a yard sale that my first grade teacher was having. She retired two years ago and sadly is downsizing her home. She said when she was 4 years old her neighbor passed away and left the piece to her parents. They didn't have room for it but stored it for her for when she grew up. She's had it for 40 years. My desk is set up the same but the carvings and mirror shape is different. I had two favorite teachers growing up and my 1st grade teacher was one of them. I'm honored to be able to cherish and care for this desk as it meant a lot to her. She said she was so sad because some man who she didn't know almost bought it and now she feels so much better that one of her former students owns it.

Anyway, yesterday I was researching this piece and found so much information about them including this posting. I later found the Sheboygan catalog and although I didn't find my exact item, I remembered the gargoyle faces. The internet is amazing and I hope the original poster sees this!


    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 4:09PM
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Thanks Lisa! After reading about it a couple of months ago, the Gargoyles represent good luck, and wards away evil. lol.

I'm glad you were able to buy yours.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 8:01AM
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I've actually seen quite a number of these, and our family used to manufacture them as well. This piece is giving me a bit of an "itch" though. I would agree with others that it "appears" to be around an early 1900's piece, but along with the finish and some other aspects, I'm getting more of a 1935-1950's repro feel.

Any chance you could picture a back upper corner? A thickness and composition of the back material would be helpful as well. For that matter... it would really be nice to see the underside and leg attachments.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 2:14PM
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There are absolutely no aspects of this combo I find unusual with a 1905 produced piece, at least from the pictures and descriptions.
Did anyone actually look a the link closely that LCapo provided? It is exact duplicate of the one the original poster provided. Right down to the hardware. The only thing missing is the tiny shelf, and that could have been a victim of time and use.

I know most furniture reproductions I've seen from the thirties through fifties avoided styles very popular in the first decade of the century because it just wasn't old enough to be considered quaint or desireable. It was, however, new enough to still be present in many homes and look terribly dated.

As an example mid-century modern is now enjoying popularity. Sixty years is long enough to be novel. But I don't think too many companies would want to reproduce a 1980s style. I don't think dusty rose paint or kitchen plaques with the word 'country' on them are going to make a resurgence anytime soon. Or even Mediterranin styled furniture, waterbeds and shag carpeting. But..........give it another couple decades. One doesn't ordinarily reproduce recent styles......there are too many originals still around in second-hand stores.

LCapo's link.....below.

Here is a link that might be useful: comination case

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 6:36PM
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I way in hell is that piece a repro. Those things just were not reproduced...perhaps in a parody form...but not in any sort of an exact replica.
Linda c

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 7:37PM
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"Reproduction" probably isn't the best word... "revival" piece? Looking at the clarity of the glass, the cross grain joining on top (material saver), the finish (grain unfilled, though not due to checking since ingrain finish is visible)... to me, looks a little out of date for the 1900's. Possibly refinished or the glass replaced at some point (?)

I'm not saying it's not, but on a 1900's piece, the back would normally be 3/8 in stock, recessed, and tacked (hence the question to see the back). It's likely that there would be some imperfections in the curved glass as well... or rather... slight variations noticeable in the reflected light.

I know for a FACT that they were being made in the 40's and 50's and even as late as 1970. I know because we manufactured them (with varying top pieces). So were Dawson, and so were Maywood to name a couple of others.

In later years, the back would typically be 1/8inch stock and stapled, the glass would be clear, and instead of glued and tacked wood retainers, there would be screwed metal tabs or imbeded tin retainers.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 8:10AM
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I would be very interested in seeing a good picture of one of the pieces you say you made in the 1940's and 50's. This piece was not "antique" in the 50's....and not in any way a desirable style. It was just out of style stuff.....why would "your company" make them?
I have mirrors older than 1900 and they are clear as....well clear as glass!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 10:11AM
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The only thing worthy or comment on that is that is to remark on the glass. The post was referring to curved glass items... NOT on flat mirrored glass. Apples and oranges. :-)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 7:47PM
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Fori is not pleased

The curved glass looks really perfect. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if it had been replaced--better than junking the piece (and probably really expensive)! And the door that flops into a desk seems to lack the tiger grain featured on the rest of the cabinet. It's definitely not the angled bookmatched stuff in the advertisement! But that just goes to show someone loved it enough to maybe do repairs and refinishing and in a way it makes it better since it's a family thing.

Anyway, I want one. I really NEED something like that, and gargoyles makes it that much better.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 8:34PM
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I'm a little confused...Mikk says that "our company" made them "even as late as 1970" but offers no pictures of same....nor documantation of such.
I sure never thought it was possible that item was made into the mid 20th century and have never seen such a If offered proof I would consider that I have learned a lot.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 10:48PM
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That was 60+ years ago, and prior to the internet or digital photography. I apologize that I don't have definitive photographic proof to despute your learned, definitive opinion, Linda. Our manufacturing facilities were closed in 1999. It was either that, or ship production overseas in order to be competetive in the marketplace. The best I can offer is our last company listing showing 65 years of busines with net sales totalling 1.1 million in the last year of business. Of course, that's not considering the fact that the previous 3 generations of our family operation did business as "Beaver Craft" before my grandfather bought out my great grandfather, changed the name, and registered the business under current corp-c laws of the day.

We manufactured, resold, finished, refinished, repaired, and reproduced all manner of product.

You might bear in mind to difinitively qualify and document all remarks and opinions you make in the future if you require the same from others. That's about as far as I'm willing to address the personal attack.

Here is a link that might be useful: Company listing

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 2:00AM
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