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Antique Furniture/info on rolltop desk

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rolltop desk 102515a
rolltop desk 102515a  

rolltop desk 102515b
rolltop desk 102515b  
I recently acquired a vintage rolltop desk which has been in my family for a minimum of 75 years. My father was a sharecropper small acreage farmer in Louisiana and a desk like this was unusual in our basic household furniture. It was kept in my father & mother's bedroom.  The finish was a very dark brown varnish ( probably aged from time and climate conditions),  the rolltop would not roll down, and no keys were availiable for the rolltop lock or the interior small door barrel lock.

My only conversations with my father I remember was his comment that this type of desk was "merchants sometimes used this type of desk as a safe in lieu of a metal safe". This is not to say he acquired the desk second hand from a merchant, but there is a good chance he did in a period between 1920-1930.

It was given to my brother in 1973. He removed the old varnish and applied a clear varnish to it, repaired the rolltop, started using it in his office. It was moved again in 2006 and finally to my home this year. I disassembled the desk, adjusted the rolltop, did some minor repairs, and moved it to my office.  It looks and works great.  No markings, tags, labels, or stamps on on it as to the manufacturer, date of manufacturing, or serial numbers. The only thing which could possibly be clues is a stamp of- Pat. july 28 1896- on the rolltop lock and the interior locking compartment, 1/2" barrel lock.  I have viewed many rolltop desks on the internet and none of them appear to have this inner locking compartment.

My interest is a source of the locks, an estimate of the age of this desk, and value for insurance purposes.

thank you

Answer
Date of manufacturer would be close to 1890-1910. You can figure that the patent date plus ten years would be the manufacturer date. Could have been in a business or home.  There were literally hundreds of configurations of roll top desks and hundreds of companies making them.

The locks can be purchased from several vendors.  It has become lately if you have a non standard lock it is difficult to find a replacement.  Do keep in mind that the locks for the roll lock whenever the roll is closed and there by locks any drawers that are closed at the time.  so--make sure you keep a spare lock key somewhere not on or in the desk!!

google replacement roll top desk lock.  You will get many hits selling the complete set.  You will have to do some searching to buy the lock only and do check measurements.  I am sure your lock keeper has square corners, many sell the unusable rounded corner ones but if your keeper is there then that is good.

Value would be retail around 2500-3500 if it had not been refinished.  The ones with the raised panels bring more but this is a good one.  insurance value 5000.
Thanks
hope this helps

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robert klein

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Regarding American antique, vintage, and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing. Please read instructions for posting.

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I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of American antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars through several organizations.

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