Hemswell Antique Centres

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How to find a quality antique writing desk for your office


Your office space is modern, high-tech and completely immersed in the 21st century digital world we occupy, yet you don’t want a mass-produced, build-it-yourself desk in MDF. Instead, you are hankering after a quality, antique writing desk. This dichotomy of a vintage or antique piece occupying a contemporary space can in fact add a quality and depth of character that cannot be matched in a totally contemporary setting; but what style of antique desk will suit your office and, having chosen, where can you find it?

At Hemswell Antique Centres, our selection of antique desks includes many magnificent examples, from antique pine writing tables, to mahogany pedestal desks and vintage roll top bureaux, but the choice and variety of types can be overwhelming, so here we take you through some of the most popular styles of antique desk available.

Antique roll top desks - the Edwardian’s answer to the modern workstation, a roll top desk has many compartments, drawers and pigeon holes hidden behind a rolling or slatted door that pulls down to conceal the writing surface. Great for storage, roll top desks are made from hardwoods such as oak, mahogany or walnut.

Antique kneehole desks – dating from the early Georgian period, kneehole desks have a recessed section allowing for a chair to be pulled 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.

Antique pedestal desks - following shortly on from the kneehole desk, an antique pedestal desk is a cupboard-like writing table that first appeared in the late 17th-century. Price can depend on the size of the desk and, of course, its condition, and if the desk is identified as being made by a known furniture maker, the price could even double.

Antique partners’ desks – designed to allow two people to work face-to-face, a partners’ desk features a large work area and drawers both back and front. Prices for partners’ desks vary considerably from £1000 for a cruder example to in excess of £25,000 for a well patinated Georgian piece.  

Antique Davenports desks -  in vogue during the Sheraton period (1780-1800), these antique desks were named for Captain Davenport, believed to have commissioned the first ever piece of this sort. Davenport desks feature sloping leather-lined tops over a narrow, upright cabinet with drawers.

The antique ladies’ desk - these feminine antique desks were introduced in France in the 1760s and are typified by their smaller size and proportions. More closely akin to side tables, an antique ladies’ desk was often rectangular in shape with single frieze drawers. English examples can be identified by mahogany-lined drawers, with French pieces featuring oak for the lining.

Where to find antique desks for sale

When viewing antique desks, it’s better to sit at them; this is difficult, if not impossible, to do if buying online but vital to ensure the desk is neither too narrow nor too wide for your needs and is the correct height for you. The quality of the piece, along with any signs of restoration, can be examined in person too.

Our four centres are a haven for furniture enthusiasts and are stocked by reputable dealers who can be relied upon for authentic items and accurate descriptions. These knowledgeable professionals mean that when you purchase from Hemswell Antique Centres, you can be confident that your items are genuine pieces that have been chosen with care.

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