Friday 6 July 2018
Lot 261, an early Victorian figured walnut (Juglans spp.) pedestal desk, recently sold at Bonhams for £11,250. This fine example features a rounded rectangular top with a tooled green and gilt inset writing surface above a central drawer, which is flanked by five drawers on each side. There is panelling to the sides and to the reverse of the pedestals. The desk features rectangular moulded plinth bases and castors and measures 1,500mm wide x 780mm deep x 760mm high.
In terms of provenance, the desk is said to have been removed from the solicitors' offices of Messrs Gillespie & Paterson, on 31 Melville Street, Edinburgh.
There is no positive evidence that this piece was made in Scotland but it conforms to the no-nonsense ideology that was so typical of Scotland and perhaps especially of Scottish solicitors! This desk is covered almost entirely in burr walnut, which is a classy material, but there is no excess frippery. Good-quality decorative veneer yes, but no needless expense in extra ornamentation. The plinth is also typical of early Victorian furniture. It is a solid line of timber, giving a firm base for the desk at which good solid Victorian ideas can be drafted and also giving no hint of castors or under-frame, due to the fact that the Victorians didn't want any internal construction to be visible. All in all, this is a well-made but stylistically safe and robust construction.
Lot 261, early Victorian figured walnut pedestal desk, 1,500mm wide x 780mm deep x 760mm high (PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF BONHAMS)