Chicago Antiques Guide

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French Secretaire (Secretary Desk)

Posted Monday, August 14 by Brian

Secretaire.jpgI live in the chicagoland area and I am trying to sell this item. I have been told it is a french secretary's desk, from the 1800-1900s but I have no way to verify, which is why I have included some photos (if you need more detailed shots feel free to ask!)

It has over 50 painted enamel plates, and is constructed of black painted wood with gold 'looking" metal trim and nailsholding the enamel plates in place. The plates depict various scenes, and when one opens the two top doors there is found a drawer for every month of the year. Also there is an equally elaborate matching clock that rests on top of the piece.

I would very much appreciate an estimate in value for this piece, and also a recommendation as to where I could take it to auction.


Secretaire Inside.jpg Chicago Antiques Guide was originally contacted back in March of this year about this fabulous piece. I forwarded the original photos to my contact at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers for a preliminary auction estimate. I say preliminary because a final estimate can only be done after a careful on site inspection.

Secretaire Detail.jpg

I then went to see the piece in person myself and took additional photos. Finally the specialists from Leslie Hindman's went to see the piece in person. Last week Leslie called to tell me that the piece would be in their October 15th auction of Fine Furniture & Decorative Arts.



Here is their catalogue description of the piece:

"A Continental Gilt Metal and Enamel Mounted Ebonized Secretaire,late 19th/early 20th century, the galleried top surmounted by a clock over a pair of doors opening to six drawers above a fall front writing surface having a recessed interior flanked by two drawers over a long drawer, raised on turned legs joined by stretchers, the whole mounted with enamel plaques depicting mythological scenes.

"Height 8 feet 3 inches x width 42 inches x depth 27 inches.

"A similar piece sold at Sotheby's, New York, 19th Century Furniture, Sculpture, Ceramics & Works of Art, April, 27, 2006, lot 25, illustrated.

"Estimate $25,000-30,000"


Secretaire Clock.jpg

I think the estimate given is probably conservative, and on a good day with multiple bidders, it may do much better.

Some people who do not like very ornate furniture might say that the design of this piece is "way over the top". Let's hope that's what happens to the bidding on this piece and that the hammer price is "way over the top".

Be sure to click on each of the photos to see a larger version that shows more detail.

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