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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Antique secretary/side-by-side


I was wondering if you can take a look at the picture I sent of a secretary that's for sale at our local antique store and provide any information?  The woman working the counter at the store said it was oak, but the owner of the piece says it's mahogany.  Seems that no one knows anything about it.  I'm interested especially in what year it was made, the type of wood, and it's worth (or if $1690 is a fair price).  I realize the picture isn't the greatest, but I could easily go down to the store and take more if have a particular angle you'd like to see.

Any help or expertise would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you in advance,

Emily - The bookcase/secretary is from around the turn of the 20th century. It is part of the Golden Oak period of American furniture from 1880 to about 1910. The wood is quarter sawn white oak solids and veneers. Quarter sawing is a method of cutting an oak log that produces the distinctive grain pattern seen in the wood. Quarter sawing is further explained and illustrated in my book “HOW TO BE A FURNITURE DETECTIVE.” The cabinet was factory made, probably in the Midwest- Grand Rapids or Sheboygan. The "carving" on the crest rail is machine made applied molding.

It is a magnificent cabinet but overpriced. That price was good for fifteen years ago. Here is a similar cabinet that sold at auction in October for $450.  

Here is another with lead glass and hooded crest that sold for $1500.  

The cabinet you are looking at should fall between the two.

If you want to see the best of this genre' take a look at Nancy Schiffer's book "The Very best of Golden Oak" found on Amazon at  

The book was published in 2000 and has prices that reflect that period.

Thanks for writing.

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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