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Vintage Desk Help

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by poetman, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. I'm still on the hunt for a replacement of my cheap particle board desk and would appreciate some loungers thoughts on which of the following seem more vintage. I like the first because of the leather trim but with the wood was darker and more aged--although it seems to be a nice antique with lots of character. I like the second one because the wood is dark and it's aged, but it seems perhaps a bit plain? They're both within my budget--under 50--and the first one with the leather top is 15 more than the second one. I'l
    appreciate your thoughts!

    desk 1


    desk 2


  2. Depends on what kind of room it'd be in. That top desk is the sort of desk you might find in a well-furnished high-end home study, the second is a schoolteacher's desk. The second desk is, by far, sturdier and better made than the first -- it was designed to be pretty much indestructible. You might inspect the joints of the top desk -- it may have a lot of glued joints, and they may be dry or coming loose.
  3. Lizzie, thanks for the reply. Your thoughts about the different economic suggestions of each desk confirm what I thought as well. I think I'm just curious what desk looks more vintage.
  4. Salty O'Rourke

    Salty O'Rourke Practically Family

    The second desk will be easier to polish up or refinish. It's hard to tell from the photo but the first desk's top appears to be veneered, and it looks badly chipped in a couple of places. The veneer will be hard to repair and refinishing around the leather inlay will be tough. Form follows function; if you want a solid desk you can't go wrong with the second one, just get plenty of help to move it - it's heavy.
  5. furious

    furious New in Town

    Depends on your definition of vintage. I would say that generally speaking both look vintage, i.e. dated and retro, if you will. The top has more of a polished, formal living room quality to it, and the bottom is clearly a school desk or one that would have graced a knotty pine club basement back in the 50s and 60s. Personally, I'd go with the latter as construction quality wins over finesse in my book.

    Sidebar: I was desk hunting for something vintage for my smoking lounge, which is a glorified term that I use for my garage. Anyway, I settled on a well-made High Point from the 1980s with laminated hardwood top.
  6. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

    #1 is likely a 1970's model. #2 is, as Lizzie pointed out, a schoolteacher's desk and might have been made anytime during much of the 20th century. If it were me.... I'd keep looking. :)
  7. What makes you think the first desk is from the 70's?
    What types of larger desks then have a more vintage look?
  8. vitanola

    vitanola My Mail is Forwarded Here

    The style of the first desk is Italian Provincial. Italian Provincial was somewhat popular alternative to the far more common French Provincial style of the mid-1960's.

    The commercial desk appears to date from some time between the late 1930's and the mid-1950's. Probably closer to the earlier date than the later, for wood desks were really passé in the 'Fifties. Its general style could place it anywhere between around 1910 and 1955, though.

    Are you looking for a formal living room piece or a more commercial appearing office desk?
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  9. Red Diabla

    Red Diabla One of the Regulars

    I would loveloveLOVE to have that second desk!

  10. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

    The finish, color, and most especially, the legs, all say 1970's to me. The chair is also. Of the two, I'd choose the second. They're common enough that a bright, crisp new finish won't matter in terms of value, and it'd look sharp with an office chair on wheels, the right desk lamp, phone, etc.
  11. They both look pretty interesting, but neither of them looks that incredible.

    If those were the ONLY desks I could pick...I would chose the second one.

    If I could pick more desks, I'd keep looking.

    That second desk looks more sturdy, and as Lizzie says, it's a schoolmistress's desk. It's even got what looks like a modesty-panel on the front...back...whatever...side.

    While leathertop desks are really cool and I wish I had one, with this desk, it just looks...cheap.

    What will you be using this desk of yours for (whatever you end up buying)?

    Is it going to be a vintage desk with a vintage desktop? So it's for like, writing, bills, letters, reports, putting a typewriter on top of it?

    Or is it just going to be a decorative piece for a modern desk, with a computer/laptop etc, on top of it?

    If it's a computer-holding desk, then you probably won't need something so sturdy. But if you're going to kit out your prospective desk vintage-style, then you will probably need something much sturdier. Old vintage desktop typewriters like the LC Smiths, the Royals, Remingtons, Underwoods, they weigh the better part of 50lbs. And you need a sturdy, strong desk to hold those.

    My cheap IKEA desk vibrates like a cocktail shaker when I type on it, and my typewriter is only a portable Underwood. It's so annoying I don't even type on it anymore; I put my typewriter on my lap when I want to use it!
  12. vitanola

    vitanola My Mail is Forwarded Here

  13. Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts! I'm a graduate student and writer, so I like large desks where I can sprawl a bunch of books and papers on at the same time. I've seen some more Deco pieces with more curved sides, but they're usually around 48" in length, and I need 60". Drawer space is not important, as I'm working with one drawer now and content. The desk is for my home office. I prefer a more lived-in look. I have some old, unpolished bookcases, different types of lamps etc. so formality it not my interest. Any piece of wood would be more sturdy than my current particle board, so construction is also not a concern. This is mostly an aesthetic decision: which
    desk looks aged, like it's been used and old, has stories to tell? I dint want a polised office space. I want "someone's worked and eirking a while lot in here. Something
    mysterious looking. The more I think about, I prefer the latter of the two pictures, but what other affordable large desks from the Golden Era would you all recommend? Any photos of somethy come to mind?
  14. So after reading up a bit, it seems the second desk is a "classic" teacher's style desk. How 30's/40's appropriate would this be? Also, does anyone know how I could determine the age of the desk? Any tell tale signs? I'm going to view it in person today.

    Thanks all!
  15. Dan Allen

    Dan Allen A-List Customer

    Having just retired from a school district I can attest to LizziMaines statement about teacher desk being sturdy. If you refinish them you well be surprised at the quality of wood under the varnish , at least the one I own,
  16. There seems to be no doubt about their longevity, but how 1940's do they appear? They seem to be the only desk in larger dimensions--outside a partners' desk--that were made in the Golden Era.
  17. have you considered a rolltop or a bureau desk?



    Those are certainly golden era. They're great if you're terrible at organising; they come with their own pigeon-holes!

    Partners' desks are MASSIVE pieces of furniture. Quite apart from affording one, you'd need to have a HUGE office to store one in! I'd pass on one of those. There is the smaller pedestal desk, though...


    Or the Secretary, which certainly has extra storage...


    Those are all a bit more "Victorian" in flavour. If you want something DISTINCTLY 20th century, you can't go past an old-fashioned typewriter desk:


    The central panel lifts up and drops down at the back, to reveal the typewriter well inside, where you'd place your machine. You'd pull the desktop back over the top, to cover the typewriter when you weren't using it, and give you extra space for writing.

    They look like this, when they're opened:

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  18. Those schoolteacher desks were standard issue, unchanged in style or construction, in most American schools from the thirties to the seventies -- the idea was that once they were purchased they'd last the life of the school building. You'll find similar styles in the office-furniture section of any '30s-'50s Sears catalogue.
  19. Roll tops, while nice, don't give me nearly enough space. I have the same complaint about secretaries' desks. The typewriter's desk seems the same style as the teacher's desk, but I prefer the sleeker look of the latter. Maybe that's the only option for me? Are there even other vintage disks besides the teacher's and paetner's desks in such large sizes?
  20. Draftsman's desk? Other than that, I don't think so.


    In terms of surface-area, you're looking at Partners' desks, typewriter desks, teachers desks, pedestal desks...Most of the other desk-styles of the period are rather compact, which I gather, is not what you're after.

    The only other thing that really fits the bill in this period are the draftsman's tables/desks, such as pictured above.

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