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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Slant front single serpentine desk


Front view slant front desk
Front view slant front  

Greetings Fred,
I recently purchased an old slant front desk from a guy who inherited it along with 120 other pieces of furniture from an Aunt in Virginia.
I have found several slant front desks on various antique and auction sites, but have not seen any that have the particular combination of details as the one I've got.
In particular, mine has a single serpentine contour that is convex in the middle and most I have seen are the opposite; concave at the middle and convex at the sides.
Also, mine has a different inset detail in the desk area.  I have two small drawers at each side and one drawer in the top middle.  I also have the typical "document" vertical drawers, as well as several divided nooks.
The drawer pulls are wooden and seem to me to be original. I can't find any indication of obsolete screw holes where alternate handles or pulls have been replaced.
The only marking I can find on the desk is a stamped number on the back of the top panel. On the underside, I see circular saw marks.
Each of the four drawers and the desk cover have cam locks, but I can find no marks on the locks.
I was told this piece is from the 1920's or so, but my 94 year old, former furniture maker, Grandfather says it's older than him.
Can you help me figure out when this piece was made?

Dawn - This is certainly an early 20th century piece. The machine made dovetails are the first and obvious clue. The wooden drawer pulls and the use of ribbon striped mahogany veneer also attest to a 1900-1915 manufacture date. The finish is shellac and probably the original finish.

What is interesting is what it doesn't have - the inner prospect door, the small interior door between the document drawers. Most drop front desks you will ever see, except the very bottom of the line cheaply made models, have the prospect door.  

This is obviously a factory made piece so the design is not unique but it is unusual.

With a little TLC and some repair help this could be a very nice desk.

Thanks for writing and thanks for the extra photos emailed to me.

Fred Taylor

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

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Fred Taylor


I will attempt to answer questions about American antique furniture, including construction details, style, period, manufacturers, care, repair and storage. I do not have any background in appliances, musical instruments, sewing machines, trunks, lighting, clocks or children's and baby furniture and will not respond to questions about those items.


I ran an antique furniture restoration business for twenty years. I am a nationally syndicated columnist on the subject of antique furniture for such publications as Antique Week and New England Antiques Journal. I have produced one video on the subject of furniture identification and my book "HOW TO BE A FURNITURE DETECTIVE" is now available.I have also published articles in Antique Trader, Chicago Art Deco Society, Northeast Magazine, Victorian Decorating and Lifestyles, Professional Refinishing, Antiques and Art Around Florida and Antique Shoppe. You can visit my website at

BSBA Finance, University of Florida, MBA Finance, University of Florida

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