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How much is my armoire desk worth?

Have you recently inherited or purchased an antique armoire desk and want to know its value? Mearto provides quick and affordable online appraisals of armoire desks. All you have to do is click on the “Start Appraisal” button above and follow the steps to send us information about and images of your armoire desk. One of our qualified and experienced specialists will review and get back to you with a fair market and insurance value, typically within 48 hours. Have questions about the valuation provided, or would you like some advice about selling your armoire desk? We are here to help! Our platform allows you to chat back and forth with a specialist to ensure that all of your questions are answered.

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What is an armoire desk?

An armoire desk is a small writing table built into a cabinet. The table fits below the cabinet section, and sometimes there are extra shelves or drawers on the sides of the piece.

Armoires can be closed behind two full-size doors when not in use, keeping out dust, and hiding the contents. Sometimes, the desk area has a roll top cover, which can be shut or open. Some armoire desks have desk surfaces that can be extended and retracted as well. 

They are very practical and multi-functioning furniture pieces. Less common today, their vintage appeal and rarity makes them desirable to buyers.

How is the value of an armoire desk determined?

Several factors come into play when determining the value of your armoire desk. The style and era of your desk can be determined through an expert appraisal. It’s also important to look at the type of wood or other materials that are used. Wood is divided into hardwood and softwood, with the first category being more valuable. Examples of hardwoods are oak, teak, mahogany, walnut and maple. Plenty of furniture is made from softwood as well. These woods include pine, spruce and fir. Generally, coniferous (pine) trees are softwood and deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves seasonally) are hardwood. The color of the wood and the patterns of the wood grain can help you to determine the type of wood your piece is crafted from. Oak was the wood of choice for furniture that was constructed before the 1700s. If the wood is walnut or mahogany, it may have been built after the 1700s.

Older desks that have been kept in good shape are especially valuable. When dating an antique desk, there are several key factors to look into. One is the joinery. How are the sections of the desk connected to one another? Fine antique furniture may have wooden joinery, rather than nails. If metal joinery is used, look at the quality of materials, and the overall craftsmanship. Another good indicator of the value of an antique desk armoire is the level of detail. Handmade details such as inlays or carving add intricacy add value. 

Another sign of age when examining furniture is looking at the way the wood was cut. If there are signs of circular or arced sawing on the surface, the piece was likely to have been made after 1860, when the circular saw emerged. Before that, craftsmen used straight saws. 

You can also check the finish of the desk. There are various materials that are used to coat and protect wood, and to create the desired finish, whether shiny or satin-like. The type of finish may indicate the place and time in which the piece was created, or contribute to understanding the value of the piece. If the piece is not painted, visible wood surfaces have likely been treated or varnished in some way. Wood finishing surfaces may also contain dyes. 

What kinds of finishes are used on armoire desks?

Shellac is one kind of coating that is commonly used for wooden furniture. It is a natural product and has been in use for centuries. It is produced from the excretions of Southeast Asian beetles. This substance is then mixed with alcohol, making a liquid that protects and adds shine. A shellac finish will dissolve easily or become sticky when alcohol is applied. 

Wooden furniture can also be finished with oil. This type of finish was especially common before shellac became more popular in the Victorian era. Different kinds of oil may be used, like linseed or tung. The oil is rubbed into the wood, making it water resistant and giving it a finished appearance. To know if your piece of furniture has an oil finish, you can put a small amount of linseed oil on the surface. If it soaks into the wood, you know it is oil-finished. If it beads on the surface, a different finish has been used. 

Wax is another type of finish. It may be derived from beeswax or was from the carnauba tree. Wax protects from water and alcohol. However, a wax finish will react poorly to heat. For example, if you place a hot dish on a waxed surface, it will damage the finish

Your desk armoire may also be varnished with a synthetic finishing solution. There are many of these on the market. Even if you have an antique piece, it may have been refinished with a synthetic varnish in more recent times. 

Leah

Leah Illingworth is a content specialist here at Mearto. She loves learning and writing about art and antiques each day in addition to exploring the history and stories behind art movements and objects.

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