Chicago Antiques Guide

The Chicago Antiques Guide Blog

Mahogany Chippendale Secretary from Marshall Fields

Posted Friday, November 25 by Brian

Steve writes, "Hello: We just purchased this piece of mahogany furniture last weekend. The top opens into a small desk. The top drawer has a brass stamp indicating it was either manufactured or sold by Marshall Field and Co. What is it called? When was it made? What is the current value in say good condition (as opposed to poor or excellent)? I have attached four photos for reference. Thank You."
Marshall Field's is a retail department store. To the best of my knowledge they never manufactured furniture. Many major retailers have bought or commissioned furniture to be sold under their own label. I believe that is the case with your piece.

What you have purchased is known as a drop front secretary, or desk. These are frequently found with a bookcase on top as well. Those are more properly called "secretary bookcases". The style of yours is Chippendale. The distinctive "ball and claw" feet, the style of the hardware and the shell carving on the inside door, are all typical of this style.

Your piece was most likely made in the 1940's. Unfortunately manufacturers don't change styles or designs in years that end in zero. So, it could be late 30's or early 50's, but mahogany furniture of classic period design was very popular in the 1940's, especially Chippendale.

Putting a value on your piece is difficult because of the grainy nature of your photos, and the use of terms such as poor, good and excellent which are very subjective. Also, prices vary geographically.

Chippendale is a very popular style. Marshall Fields is an upscale retailer, and the quality is above average. Lower quality pieces would have straight drawer fronts instead of the serpentine drawer fronts on yours. My best guess is that your secretary would sell for about $400-$600 in an antique shop, depending on the severity of the wear or other condition factors. Some condition problems are minor and can be remedied very easily and others are more difficult and costly to repair.

Leave a comment

Weblog Archives