Hemswell Antique Centres

How can we help?

The great desk decision - why buying an antique desk is best

Antique desk


For many people who aspire to own an antique desk, the thought of the costs involved can be daunting and slightly off-putting. However, do not fall into the trap of thinking that a top-quality, antique desk is out of your budget, as the benefits of owning one often outweigh the price. There are antique desks for all tastes and purses, that come in a diverse range of sizes and shapes, so read on to see why an antique desk may be the perfect solution for you.

The word desk derives from the Latin ‘desca’ or ‘table to write on’ and antique desks are as varied as the people who sat at them originally. Recognising the different styles of antique desk can be daunting to the uninitiated, but here are just some of the types of antique desk to be found on the market:

Antique Bureaux – a bureau was the forerunner to the traditional idea of a desk. Typified by a sloping drop-down writing surface, antique bureaux often sit atop a chest of drawers and contain compartments and pigeon holes within.

Antique Secretary Desks – like a bureau, a secretary desk also features a sloped, drop-down writing surface. Often featuring drawers and pigeon holes within, a secretary desk is usually topped with a bookcase behind doors. 

Antique Roll Top Desks – roll top desks are typical of the Edwardian period and, as the name implies, feature a rolling or slatted door that slides up and down to reveal the writing surface. Typically, a roll top desk will stand on a single or double pedestal base with integral drawers.

Antique Flat Desks or Partners’ Desks – as the name suggests, a partners’ desk was originally intended for two people, featuring drawers and/or cupboards on both sides of the piece. The nature of the original purpose for these desks means they are often larger pieces, with a work surface large enough to accommodate two comfortably. These desks are quite heavy and more ornate than secretary desks, and therefore often more valuable.

Antique Kneehole Desks – dating from the early Georgian period, kneehole desks feature a recessed section which allows the user to pull a chair nearer to the writing surface. Often with drawers on either side of the recess, antique kneehole desks also have one wide or two or three shorter drawers across the top.

Having decided on the style of desk for your home or office, why should you invest in an antique piece when there are so many contemporary pieces on the market at much lower prices?

Durability - unlike their contemporary flatpack counterparts, antique desks will last. The average lifespan of a new piece of furniture is 15 years, whereas, by definition, an antique desk has already endured at least a hundred years with nothing to say it will not last another hundred or more.

Quality - as antique desks pre-date the 1920s, which saw the beginning of large-scale furniture production, they are crafted by hand. Modern desks are often mass produced from lower quality woods as many ‘old’ wood is now endangered and so no longer able to be harvested for use. 

Uniqueness - traditional antique desks are one-off pieces, handcrafted by skilled artisans, which means by choosing an antique desk, you will have a completely unique and individual piece. The unique quality of an antique desk also means your individual style and taste will not be replicated by hundreds of other households.

Investment – although antique desks, like all antiques, are prone to the fickleness of changing fashion which can cause a fluctuation in value, there will always be a demand for quality pieces. An antique desk will therefore, at the very least, hold its value and will probably increase in value over time. Not only does an antique desk bring you pleasure and enhance your home, it also represents a great investment opportunity.

Environmental credentials – research carried out by an independent carbon management consultancy showed that the carbon footprint of an antique piece of furniture is 16 times lower than that of a newly manufactured piece. This is based on the comparative green house emissions of each type of production. Moreover, carbon emissions are further reduced as antique furniture is rarely used as landfill and less freight is needed to bring it into the country. Antique furniture is sustainable, representing the oldest form of recycling, and does not involve trees being cut down for its production.

When buying an antique desk, it is always preferable to find a reputable dealer who can be relied upon for authentic items, with accurate descriptions. At Hemswell Antique Centres, our dealers are knowledgeable professionals with a wealth of information on the items they have for sale.  You can purchase from Hemswell Antique Centres with the confidence that our dealers choose their stock with care and take great pride in all their pieces. If you are unable to visit the centres in person, and have found a piece online that you would like to look at, our live virtual shopping tours may be of interest. Conversely, as a dealer in antique desks at Hemswell, the largest antique centre in Europe, you will be part of our large network. Our online presence will bring you a far-reaching customer base and you will have access to your own dealer portal.

Back to articles