my dad's old roll top desk
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  1. #1
    Ricardo Cabeza
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    my dad's old roll top desk

    I brought this home from Minnesota last year. Dad had it in his office at the college for 30 years then when he retired he had it in his home office. It needed a ton of work. There was some veneer in the leg well that needed to be glued down, plus a couple of the drawers needed to be repaired. There was a giant crack down the back which I had to pull apart and repair, and the top had been replaced at some point with one that wasn't very well done, so my buddy the master cabinet maker and I made a new top for it. I couldn't get the stain color quite right, but it's much better that it was. Also at some point someone painted the insides of the drawers and the organizer flat black. It was probably my dad. Given how frugal he was he probably happened upon it in sorry condition, got it for nothing, and made it usable. You can see that half the drawers inside are missing.

    It was super dirty and smelled like the basement it was in for the last 12 years. Cleaned it with some wood soap and wiped it down with a mixture of olive oil and lemon essential oil.

    I don't know anything about the history of it. The closest thing I've found style wise was another one made by a company called Levy and White Desk Company that had the same dimensions and the same handles (which I've never seen on any other desk. I figure it was made sometime between 1890 and 1910.

    I also have a desk that belonged to Mrs69's granddad, so I've got to make room for it. I like the roll top better but I'm not one to put a family heirloom on the curb mine or not.

    Anyway, still have one drawer in the clamps in these pictures.

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    Last edited by Andy69; 2 Weeks Ago at 01:40 PM.
    Whenever the legislators endeavour to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence - John Locke

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  2. #2
    Frog Whisperer
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    Very nice! I like roll tops, I have a small one that became obsolete because of desktop computers. I may resurrect it some day when I replace it with a laptop.
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

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  3. #3
    Master debator.
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    I've always wanted one, just never had the space or the place for it. I can find nice solid oak ones on craiglist very reasonable around here. Someday. I had a nice bookcase that I refinished as a child with my father helping about 38 years ago, I finally threw that away not too long ago.
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  4. #4
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    That's a treasure, Andy. Enjoy it because I fear we're the last generation who will. I have a half dozen such pieces and none of the next generation ( kids, nieces, nephews ) have any interest in them.
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  5. #5
    Ricardo Cabeza
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    Quote Originally Posted by oily666 View Post
    That's a treasure, Andy. Enjoy it because I fear we're the last generation who will. I have a half dozen such pieces and none of the next generation ( kids, nieces, nephews ) have any interest in them.
    I think the trick is they have to see and use the heirlooms to appreciate them.
    Whenever the legislators endeavour to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence - John Locke

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  6. #6
    pmf
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    Its good you're getting some utility out of that desk. I had one for several years. Really detailed workmanship -- no one makes stuff like that any more (well, almost nobody. I recently bought a hand made walnut bedroom set made in Vermont, and I paid a pretty penny for it). I liked it, but it wasn't very functional. Too small for a computer. Once my spare bedrooms filled up with kids, it had to go. The amazing part was I practically had to give it away.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by oily666 View Post
    I have a half dozen such pieces and none of the next generation ( kids, nieces, nephews ) have any interest in them.
    My mom has a bunch of really nice crystal dinnerware that my great aunt gave her - and a new but really nice Amish build hutch to display them in.

    The last thing I want is a bunch of plates that I can't put in the dishwasher and would require a large piece of furniture that doesn't fit my decorating style or available space to store. There's no point in hiding it all away in the crawlspace either.

    Sorry Aunt Pauline, once they pass into my hands they'll probably be sold to finance a snowmobile.

  8. #8
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    My mom has a bunch of really nice crystal dinnerware that my great aunt gave her - and a new but really nice Amish build hutch to display them in.

    The last thing I want is a bunch of plates that I can't put in the dishwasher and would require a large piece of furniture that doesn't fit my decorating style or available space to store. There's no point in hiding it all away in the crawlspace either.

    Sorry Aunt Pauline, once they pass into my hands they'll probably be sold to finance a snowmobile.
    If you're going to have the experience I had getting rid of it, it'll be sold to finance a pair of snow mobile boots.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    If you're going to have the experience I had getting rid of it, it'll be sold to finance a pair of snow mobile boots.
    Probably true!

    In all seriousness, I'd probably keep a couple pieces but would rather it go to someone, even a stranger, that would appreciate it. I have no kids or siblings so there's no motivation to pass anything down to future generations.

    I had and still have some great needle-pointers in my family. That's the kind of heirloom I'll hang onto when they pass to me. That and some pretty cool photos and misc. stuff my great uncle had in his speak-easy during prohibition.

  10. #10
    Ricardo Cabeza
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    my dad's old roll top desk

    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    My mom has a bunch of really nice crystal dinnerware that my great aunt gave her - and a new but really nice Amish build hutch to display them in.

    The last thing I want is a bunch of plates that I can't put in the dishwasher and would require a large piece of furniture that doesn't fit my decorating style or available space to store. There's no point in hiding it all away in the crawlspace either.

    Sorry Aunt Pauline, once they pass into my hands they'll probably be sold to finance a snowmobile.
    Thatís a tough call for some. I tend to be nostalgic about stuff but Iíve learned to be realistic. For instance, I had my great grandmotherís china. Sounds cool but we donít use China and we also had two other relativesí China. I looked this stuff up and discovered it came as a bonus in boxes of laundry soap. I can hear great grandma cackling over the prospect of some ancestor keeping that junk. So it went to the thrift store. But we did keep great grandmaís dining room table, which was the first piece of furniture her parents bought when they came here from Norway in 1899.

    Other prized heirlooms we have include the chest my great great uncle made to hold their supplies for the trip, my dads Regina music box and Edison cylinder player, a genuine wrought iron pub sign, various pictures, and my motherís artwork.

    I had considered keeping the Caterham for the kids but by the time I kick the bucket, itís going to have some fire breathing twin turbo 400 hp engine and thatís what Iíll be driving when I go out in a fiery blaze of glory at turn 1 at Road America




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    Last edited by Andy69; 3 Days Ago at 05:13 PM.
    Whenever the legislators endeavour to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence - John Locke

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy69 View Post
    Other prized heirlooms we have include the chest my great great uncle made to hold their supplies for the trip
    I would also keep stuff that made the trip from the motherlands but, AFAIK, there is none except maybe some needlepoint work Great Grandma brought from Czechoslovakia.

    On a whim, my dad made a small table out of a cable spool when I was a little kid. I've now had it for 20 years and use it as a coffee table in my living room since it's the perfect size and I don't mind people putting feet on it or not using drink coasters. My mom is always asking why I don't replace it with a "real" table. I'll probably keep that forever too although Dad's furniture making skills have become much better.

  12. #12
    Boobies!
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    We've worked on a couple of house clean-ups these past few years--and interacted with the estate sale mavens--folks who will come in and bulk buy good stuff, or specialty stuff that they resell, like Apple computer stuff, old games--you name it.

    To a person, they are complaining that it is getting harder and harder to sell stuff--and it is not even about aggressive pricing or not--it's just that most of us no longer want to live like our grandparents, or maybe our parents. We were at a divorce sale recently (one of our contacts was doing a full sale on a house of stuff where the husband and wife divorced, she got the large house full of stuff including all the detritus from raising kids, and now it is her turn to downsize. Nice stuff (he was a doctor, and had money and good taste)--designer china, designer modern sofa, nice glassware and a lot of really nice stuff--and they were having trouble selling any of it. And the prices were good.

    We have stuff that I would toss if I could, but I'm really not that interested in a 12 place setting formal china set, even if it was someone's pride and joy 75 years ago. (We rarely use our own "good" china as it is!)

    A good roll-top though--I might make an exception. My late Uncle Ross had one, and I was fascinated by it the whole time I was growing up.
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