Rare Victorian - Herter Brothers Ebonized Fall-Front Desk
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Herter Brothers Ebonized Fall-Front Desk

herter brothers fall front desk Herter Brothers Ebonized Fall Front Desk

herter brothers fall front desk Herter Brothers Ebonized Fall Front DeskSloans & Kenyon out of Chevy Chase, MD will be putting the ebonized Herter Brothers desk to the right up for sale on November 16th.  The back is stamped with the “Herter Bro’s” moniker, so you can be assured that this is the real deal.

The front of the desk is inlaid with “grapevines, stylized chrysanthemums and butterfly, in light satinwood or maple”, according to S&K.  The listing does not mention if the desk’s original “H” key has survived to be a part of the sale.

Bidding is expected to be strong with an expected range of $40,000 to $60,000 with a starting price of $20,000.

I don’t recommend storing the family crayons in this one.

More at the listing for the desk.  Sloans and Keyon will also be selling this ebonized writing table, thrice-signed by Herter Brothers.

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7 Comments
  • misslilybart - November 10, 2008

    A nearly identical Herter desk, with a different fabric insert and apparently sans brand (since it was “attributed to…”) was sold @ Fontaine’s in 2002, for $39,200. [see http://antiquesandthearts.com/AW0-03-19-2002-11-38-04%5D

    Perhaps the reiteration of the marquetry is an indication that these desks were produced for “stock” rather than for a specific client/commission? The firm also produced a striking, more “English” variant of the form, being clearly indebted to the designs of E.W. Godwin, who was in turn influenced by Japanese furniture. [See plate 224, Nineteenth-Century Design from Pugin to Mackintosh, by Gere and Whiteway]

    And as a small nit-pick, the foliage depicted is not a grapevine. I believe it may instead be a passion flower vine.

  • RareVictorian - November 10, 2008

    Thanks MLB. On the foliage, that’s why I left it as their quote since I felt it was probably something else.

  • james conrad - November 10, 2008

    Very nice, i just wish the pic’s were better, its difficult to see. With a signed piece such as this, one would think a professional photographer would be within the marketing budget.

  • misslilybart - November 10, 2008

    Mea culpa, RV, I should have made it clear that it was the auction house’s I have a quibble with… 🙁

    My husband went through his archives and turned up two more desks like this one. One was in a dealer’s booth (at one of the Victorian Victorian Decorative Arts shows held @ the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC, in the mid-1990s), and was missing most of its gallery. I regret I have only a very poor image from a newspaper clipping of that example; it had the same fabric as the 2002 Fontaines desk. The other is this one: http://preview.tinyurl.com/6hb3a4, with purple (?) fabric insert, which also went through Fontaines at some point.

  • johnwerry - November 12, 2008

    Trying out a new comments plugin…

    No worries, MLB. As a non-subscriber to p4a I can't see the price realized on that one. Did you happen to see a realized price anywhere?

  • misslilybart - November 12, 2008

    John, I’m not a subscriber either, so I can’t see the sale date or price.

  • misslilybart - November 14, 2008

    The provenance of this piece includes “Illustrated, Figure XII-I, p. 248, Oscar Fitzgerald, “Three Centuries of American Furniture”,” a copy of which my husband just handed to me, opened to page 248… the auction description is largely “borrowed” from the photo caption, omitting hyperbole and descriptors like ‘exquisite,’ ‘beautiful’ and ‘typical,’ reading thusly: “Ladies writing desk. Ebonized cherry, New York, 1870-1880.
    Branded on the back is the maker’s name, “Herter Bros.” The exquisite inlay of grape vines, stylized chrysanthemums, and a beautiful butterfly and the typical piston feet enliven this and other fine pieces produced by this firm. The gallery of spindles flanking the shelf above the writing surface is a motif found on even the cheapest Eastlake furniture. The light satinwood or maple inlay on the fall-front and on the interior contrasts with the dark, ebonized cherry. Ebonizing connoted richness because hard ebony was an exotic and expensive wood to work with. The light green, patterned velvet behind the shelf adds and additional touch of color.”

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