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Interesting arts and crafts mystery desk

Posted by cslambert (My Page) on
Thu, May 15, 14 at 18:35

Hello everyone! Please click HERE to view pictures of a peculiar old desk I found for 30.00 in a peddlers mall.

At first glance, it seemed like a typical oak desk, but upon closer inspection, its quality became apparent. Hand cut dovetails on drawer and cabinet carcass, scribed mortise and tenon joinery, elegant turnings, an interesting scribed 2 tone design on the drawer carcass side. all solid quartersawn oak and ash, save for drawer bottoms-- which are plywood. Nails are round. I assume 1920-1940 on this piece agewise.

I am not sure what purpose of the desk was used for, but it certainly appears to be a custom job by a professional/ talented amateur. There are several small drawers (all missing knobs unfortunately) that have no sides. Just an ash front rabetted into a poplar ply bottom, and a poplar back butt jointed and nailed into the ply. These appear all original.

I wonder what purpose these drawers would have served? Maybe the craftsman got lazy after all of the other good craftsmanship on this desk and skipped the sides?

Anyone have any answers or observations on this piece?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Interesting arts and crafts mystery desk

THIRTY DOLLARS! I hope you bought it!

You don't show how the drawers fit into the piece ... that's important.

Can you post more with a focus on the drawers?


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RE: Interesting arts and crafts mystery desk

Hey thanks for your response, and yes i bought it. Being a woodworker I knew what an undertaking this kind of project would be, and how well executed the work is. I imagine its worth at least 30? :P

As for the drawers: The bottoms slide on dado grooves in the drawer casing. The drawers themselves measure 15" deep 11 3/4 wide and 2" high. Let me know if you need more photos or dimensions :)


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RE: Interesting arts and crafts mystery desk

Customized for something besides the usual drawer contents.

Possible to hold flat boxes of something, or ledgers.


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RE: Interesting arts and crafts mystery desk

That makes a lot of sense-- especially since flat boxes probably would have helped keep the drawers ridged. A couple more clues-- each drawer has black pastel like Chicken scratch markings, with some blues and reds here and there. I also found a scrap piece of transfer paper behind the drawers. Lastly there's a marking in pencil on the side of drawer casing that says "S.O 5972"


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RE: Interesting arts and crafts mystery desk

Did one of the sideless drawers hold a typewritter?


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RE: Interesting arts and crafts mystery desk

Looking at the other photos of the desk I doubt the sideless drawer (and it would have to be the top one) would have supported a typewriter because there isn't anything to support the weight. Those old typewriters were heavy, as I'm sure you know. Plus there would be no advantage to having the typewriter on a drawer as it would have to be permanently open- the drawer is too shallow to be closed with a typewriter on it.


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RE: Interesting arts and crafts mystery desk

Colleen is right-- these drawers are relatively delicate. They were definitely meant for something relatively lightweight. The mystery continues :)


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RE: Interesting arts and crafts mystery desk

That is an uncommon drawer construction. The contents would have to be something that would not spill out when the drawer was opened. A ledger or album is a possibility. Other possibilities are maps or art portfilios, maybe drawing papers. The absence of the sides makes it easier to lift a sheet of paper off a stack.


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