Antiques 101: Writing Furniture
Photographs byLarry Monteith
To the Letter: “Around Charleston, we tend to find late 18th- to early 19th-century English writing tables and fall-front desks,” says Tucker Payne of Tucker Payne Antiques (the Lowcountry, of course, having a long association with British colonial culture). Here’s a sampling of table styles found in local shops and collections, all designed for
What you need to know about antique writing tables and desks
• Writing furniture can be divided into three categories: bureaus, secretaires, and writing desks.
• Bureaus and secretaires have built-in shelving and cabinets and were primarily used by women. Their more masculine counterparts, the flat-top desks, typically feature sleek tops with fitted drawers.
• Rich mahogany, walnut, and oak are high-quality, desirable woods for collectors.
• As with all antiques, rarity is a key factor in determining value.
• Prices vary widely: an English turn-of-the-century oak piece stamped by the maker might be valued as low as $900, while an early 19th-century American Federalist mahogany desk can fetch up to $16,000.