Antique Davenport Desks
An Antique Davenport desk is a small desk that features an inclined desktop that can be opened. Once lifted, the desktop reveals an interior compartment that is used to store writing implements, such as paper, quills and inkpots. Additional small spaces, such as pigeonholes and small drawers are also built in the body.
History & Description
The shape of a Davenport desk is distinctive. The bottom half resembles one half of a pedestal desk turned sideways while the top half bears a likeness to an antique school desk. The desk is named after Captain Davenport, who, towards the end of the eighteenth century, commissioned the very first example from Waring & Gillow of Lancaster.
Guide for collectors
Davenport desks are extremely popular items of antique furniture and can realise high prices when sold at auction. Whilst instances of Davenport desks sold at Sotheby’s and Bonhams are extremely rare, Christie’s regularly sells top quality Davenport desks that were produced in the nineteenth century.
Antique Davenport desks were typically made from rosewood and mahogany, though some rarer examples were produced from yewwood. The more valuable Davenport desks feature ornate decorations, often depicting stags, birds and other naturalistic scenes.
Antique Davenport desks are regularly sold through online antique dealers, such as Sellingantiques.co.uk and Driscollantiques.co.uk, and prices tend to range from £1,500 to £2,000 but examples have been advertised for as low as £500.
Davenport desks were often reproduced during the twentieth century and so prospective buyers should try to attain as much information as possible to confirm that they are purchasing a genuine antique item.
In June 2011, an early Victorian mahogany Davenport desk realised a price of $1,250 through Christie’s, New York.
In September 2010 at Christie’s in New York, a Moorish bone-in laid, rosewood, amboyna and parquetry Davenport desk, made in the late-nineteenth century, realised a price of $1,250.
In April 2005, an Irish Victorian stained-oak, yewwood and marquetry Davenport desk, made in Killarney in the second half of the nineteenth century, was sold through Christie’s, New York, for $8,400.
In October 2002, a William IV rosewood Davenport desk, circa 1830, realised a price of $5,738 through Christie’s in New York.