Relevant categories: Bookcases,Desks
(Above photo - Queen Anne bureau desk oyster walnut )
If you want to buy an antique bureau desk, you should start by knowing what to look for. You could have gone to a garage sale, household auction, a secondhand store, or an antique store – make sure you know how to buy one. That way, you will avoid buying a reproduction or an outright imitation of a famous bureau desk. If you aren’t sure whether you are dealing with an antique, you should pay an expert for their opinion. So, how do you assess whether a piece of furniture you have is an antique or not?
1. The Period of the Desk
(Above photo - Georgian breakfront bureau bookcase )
The first antique bureau desks appeared during the late 17th and early 18th century (Queen Anne Period). Initially, the desk and chest of drawers were separable pieces that were reattached together when there was the need. So, it shouldn’t surprise you if you find an antique bureau desk with a writing area you can remove from the chest of drawers.
However, antique bureaus went beyond the Queen Anne period moving into the Georgian era, when furniture makers preferred heavily veneered mahogany. These desks are still heavily sought after by home users and well office workers.
(Above photo - Georgian Bureau Desk Mahogany Antique )
One of the easiest ways to identify an antique bureau desk is through the type of joinery used. In the earliest days, furniture makers never used machines but rather rut every piece of wood manually. You need to remove the drawers and check the joints between the front and the sides. Also, check joints between the back and the sides for handmade dovetails and uneven fitting. If the dovetails are precisely cut and closely spaced, the bureau desk isn’t an antique.
3. Saw Marks
Besides, you should check straight saw marks which indicate that the piece of furniture was made earlier than 1860. Circular saw marks appear on desks made in later years since it was in 1860 that the circular saw was invented. The bottom, back, and sides of the drawer are also likely to have cuts and nicks that show the wood was cut using a drawknife, plane, or spokeshave.
4. Asymmetrical Shapes
(Above photo - George II Mahogany Bureau Desk )
Other signs you should look for is the kind of symmetry a desk has. If it is exactly symmetrical, it is a clear sign that the desk was machine cut. Expect a handmade antique bureau desk to have uneven rockers, spindles, slats, rungs, and other geometrical figures. The differences in size and shape can be too minute, which is why a thorough examination is required.
5. The Finish
The kind of finish on the wood surface can also indicate whether you have an antique bureau desk. Most likely, it would have a shellac finish and no varnish or lacquer, which are later inventions. Some pieces may even have a wax, milk, or oil paint finish. You may use denatured alcohol to test the finish – shellac completely dissolves in alcohol.
6. Wood Type
(Above photo - Antique Georgian Bureau Desk - Circa 1800 )
The final thing to consider is the wood, which is likely to be walnut and mahogany. Oak desks existed before the 18th century and shouldn’t be a consideration.
Now that you know how to identify an antique bureau desk, why don’t you come to our shop for great deals?
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