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Thread: Question for Antique Enthusiasts (not about a sewing machine!)

  1. #1
    Super Member DonnaC's Avatar
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    Question for Antique Enthusiasts (not about a sewing machine!)

    I know you folks are the best ones to ask even though this is not machine-related. Does anyone know what the actual purpose is for the piece of furniture pictured? My late aunt gave this to me; she called it a desk. It does have a roll top however I think it would be impossible to use as a desk because there is nowhere to sit. The bottom part (please pardon the mess, I'm currently using for storage) has a glass shelf and a light, so it could be used to display collectibles I guess. It's extremely heavy and solid.

    I'm not looking to sell it or anything, just extremely curious about what it would have been used for. The only thing I can come up with in my head is maybe a telephone table, and you would have stored phone books in the roll top part?

    Thanks!
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  2. #2
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    Is it possible that two pieces of furniture we're combined to make that piece?

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    If there isn't any pull out table or extension part functioning as a writing space it was probably never meant to be used as a desk. The curved sliding cover (aka roll top?) could hide anything, the glass doors lean towards a more decorative display of somthing. I have seen roll top phone stands, the most common phone desks used to be a low table with a seat on the side. It looks like it's designed for some kind of specific purpose with the open space and curved side on the top right.

  4. #4
    Super Member DonnaC's Avatar
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    Hi bearisgray! I honestly don't think so, although that did occur to me. It's such a solid piece and the wood is so well matched.

    Mickey2, that's the type of phone stand I have seen also, the ones with the seat.

    Still a mystery!!

  5. #5
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    I know a bit about antiques but I've never come across anything like that!

  6. #6
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    ​I don’t know it’s original purpose but the bottom with the glass doors would be perfect for folded quilt display.

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    I think what you might have is a "marriage", that is the term used to describe the joining of two pieces that didn't initially go together. The middle section as you point out is for display. The base is very large but if you think of the need to lift the display section up, it makes sense. The base also prevents you from bringing a chair or even standing close to the unit. All of the unit is open for display except for the roll top section - perhaps 20% - why? Some companies did "end-of-day" items, whether it was molten glass or the last items on the table when constructing paper Valentines (Victorian ones) or Christmas decorations. Perhaps this factory was closing down and they decided to use what was there or perhaps it was a dare. Both my husband and I have been into antiques all our lives. He had two businesses back East and we had one together for 12 years. We have never seen one like yours. It is definitely different. I always liked having something different. Enjoy using it. Will the mystery ever be solved?
    Last edited by Kelsie; 04-21-2019 at 02:26 PM.

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    So called marriage usually comes from antique dealers, rather dubious ones. If your aunt bought it new you don't have to doubt, but I guess anything is possible when we buy second hand. I have come to hate alterations, it seems like a good idea at the time and it can work for a while, but I have had a set of chairs gone bad because my mother decided they would look "ligher and more elegant" if she sawed of the cross section securing the legs. They don't look bad now, but they needed further work later on to secure some joints and there's only two left (more pressure on joints and they broke). Another time my great aunt decided to saw off a section of the legs on a victorian or edwardian table. The lower parts of the legs are solid but swirly bits, they were taken off shortened and put back on. The table worked fine for it's intended alteration, but now it's just a bit short for the chairs that go with it. Have you ever tried to remove paint from nice wood or veneer? Arghhhh....

    You should be able to notice slight differences in wood and wrokmanship in "marriage pieces", but it needs a keen eye and closer investigation.

  9. #9
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    I think Mickey2 may be on to something. It almost looks like there is a slide-out. It looks like that piece of wood that is in the green rectangle is kind of rounded in front and doesn't go all the way to the edge. I wonder if there is a place where the green arrow is pointing where one could pull that piece out and then slide a chair under??

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    Janey & John

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    Could it possibly be a Depression era kitchen hutch? The bottom part would hold dishes or pots and pans and the roll top surface could be closed while proofing dough for the rising process. The wood looks like pine and the color is slightly darker than the more blond look but should be well in the typical range. The carving looks like a low cost decoration as people did not have much money to spend.

  11. #11
    Super Member DonnaC's Avatar
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    Wow this is all so interesting! Unfortunately OneWorkbench, there is no slide out. It's probably an optical illusion in the photo. The rounded part is the top part, and the recessed area is below (where the tops of the doors close, is the best way I can describe it).

    I'm beginning to think you folks are correct and this was two pieces formed into one. The top part is very reminiscent of the top of a hutch (with the rounded area at the bottom).

    My aunt was quite an interesting person.... she was the "black sheep" of her big Irish family growing up (LOL) and had many varied friends of different persuasions; in other words, she was way ahead of her time. She moved around quite a bit and I believe this particular piece of furniture may have been taken on "large item trash day" from a neighbor's house!!

    I actually love the weirdness of the piece and have used it for lots of things throughout the years. I love the idea of using the bottom for quilt display! At one time when my mom was living with me, we had collectibles displayed in the lighted bottom portion, but the shelf it set in such a way that everything in there has to be really small (short) in order to be seen.

    I'm fascinated by this discussion... thank you!

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    I believe the carving is a wheat design that has been "so called" spoon carving. I am also wondering f it sa kitchen piece.

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    It might be a dining room piece, but I doubt it's a kitchen piece. Kitchen furniture usually has a purpose/function. You can't cool a pie inside those glass doors. There's no place to store flour, herbs, sugar or any other food item. Proofing bread is usually done around a heat source. Putting it inside a roll top doesn't make sense and wouldn't serve any purpose, as the two things you need to proof dough is heat and humidity. Neither would be provided inside the roll top. There is no place to roll out dough. There is no good place to store dishes or silverware or pots and pans.

    I would guess it had a specific purpose. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense. It's not a desk, it's not a kitchen item, it's not a bedroom item. It doesn't appear to be a useful dining room item, as it can't serve as a bar, a buffet or a hutch. Maybe it's a store display of some sort.

    It has me stumped.

    bkay

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    Super Member Aurora's Avatar
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    Are there any markings on the back of the item or anywhere. It reminds me more of the Early American revival in the 1960's.
    Aurora

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    Looks to me like a quilt display piece on the bottom and quilting supplies under the roll top. I'd take the piece next to the roll top off and put an old fashioned telephone there. It's a lovely conversation piece.
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    If the shelves are in-set and there are sections in the rolltop that looks like you can put envelops etc, then it could be a desk, used when the doors are open.
    Maria
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    I know a bit about antiques. My mother was very much into them and had taken a lot of classes on antiques and collectibles. I've never seen anything like this. I'm leaning towards it either being a marriage. However, Aurora's suggestion that it was part of the Early American revival of the 60's does have merit. I remember that and there were some pieces made that were never made back in the day.
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    A childhood friend of mine had parents who did a bit of entertaining. They had a similar cabinet except the rolltop part was different, I think it was maybe a slideby door? Anyway, they kept liqueur bottles in the bottom, glasses behind the door and used the open part to hold an ice bucket and mix drinks. I don't know if that's what it was made for but they used it as a dry bar (no sink).
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  19. #19
    Super Member DonnaC's Avatar
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    Hello again folks!

    Aurora - Sadly, no markings anywhere on the piece.

    Farmhousesewer - Nope, no slots for envelopes or anything desk-like.

    Huntress - Very interesting thought! As I said, the bottom glass shelf areas (with inside light) are very short, definitely would fit liquor glasses though... and I remember some families in the 70's did have their glasses in hutches with lights. This probably could have been used as a dry bar....hmmmm.......

    I still think quilts would look nice inside those glass doors! Unfortunately the only place I can fit this right now is in my kitchen area. But I suppose the quilts would still be protected because they would be inside, right?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    Is it possible that two pieces of furniture we're combined to make that piece?
    What I was thinking, too. Looks like a roll top desk top attached to possibly the top part of a "pie safe" as the lower part -- with a constructed base or a base taken from yet another furniture piece, as the bottom.

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