Antique Partners Desks
An antique Partners Desk is a type of antique writing desk designed to be used by two people.
Partner desks are a form of antique desk originating from the United Kingdom in the 19th century, with the design facilitating a workspace for two people facing one another, as well as generally featuring a selection of drawers for storing paperwork and files.Brief history and description of designer/manufacturer
The desk was initially designed to accommodate the necessary workspace for bankers who wanted to work as a team. The design proved popular, and spread to other areas of the world, however perhaps most notably France and America. Primarily made from woods such as mahogany and oak, the partner desk served both practical and aesthetic functions, enabling productivity in a more social environment, whilst also maintaining high standards in design.
Guide for collectors
Partner desks can make very valuable antiques, with their price descending generally according to the condition of the furniture, and whether there have been any alterations or restorations made to each individual piece.
Antique partner desks can be a particularly good investment if the buyer is willing to invest in any future upkeep, which, whilst not guaranteed to increase the value of the item, should at the very least help prevent a sudden or progressive decline in value.
Partner desks can be both elaborately decorated and more simplistic in style, with many of the more decorative styles originating from France. The style is still very popular, and it is worth noting that a partner desk is even included in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington DC, serving as the ‘President’s Desk.’
In addition, the US Senate features several partner desks, and the United States Treasury also features a double partner desk designed by noted American architect Cass Gilbert, dated from 1907. The desks have gained popularity with collectors, particularly in America, since the start of the 21st century, perhaps reflecting a desire to re-evaluate domestic and work-related furniture trends in recent history.
They are available at conventional auction houses both obscure and mainstream, and antique partner desks also frequently feature in online eBay auctions, often for slightly lower prices than the conventional auction houses but frequently with the added clause that they must be picked up by the buyer.
Notable auction sales
Partner desks have sold for both high and low prices, with price differentiations dependent almost entirely on the condition and current desirability of the piece in question, with Bonhams selling an early 20th century oak partner desk for £380 on 17th March 2005, and an early 200th century mahogany partner desk on 21st July 2005 for £350.
Additionally, Bull Run Auction, Inc. sold a walnut antique partner desk for $750 on 20th March 2005, whilst Doyle New York sold a George III style mahogany partner desk for $2,750 on 15th March 2005.
The highest price paid for a partner desk was at a Sotheby’s auction on 23rd November 2005, where a George III mahogany and gilt-brass mounted partner desk, featuring double sided frieze drawers and a rectangular moulded top, sold for £153, 600.