Late 1850s desk and bookcase set

Jul 25, 2020. 21:16 UTC
Late 1850s desk and bookcase set
United States of America

Acquired from

For sale

A desk and bookcase combination set made of the same wood (though not exactly sure which type). The desk is 3 ft x 2 ft and stands 28.5 inches tall. It is accompanied with a separate 1/4 inch thick original sheet of glass that measures 35.5 inches x 23.25 inches. The desk has a functioning drawer. The bookcase is 3 feet x 1 foot and stands 40.5 inches tall. The bookcase comes with a functioning drawer at the bottom and two shelves that can house 3 layers of books. Neither piece has any identifying information about who made it or where. However the numbers "#825" and "#820" are written on the back of the bookcase in a fading red material which appears to be a wax. The "#820" is crossed out.


According to family history, my third great-grandfather the Reverend Thomas Hall Forster purchased this set "just before the Civil War," and he wrote his civil war sermons on the desk. He likely purchased it in Southeastern Michigan or Delaware. He lived in Macomb County Michigan from 1845-1854, in Delaware 1854-1857, then Oakland County Michigan in 1857-1867, and then moved back to Macomb County Michigan from 1867 until his death in 1889. The desk and bookcase have always been passed down together as a set through the family since he died.

Answered within 29 minutes
Jul 25, 21:44 UTC
By Delia

Fair Market Value

$300 - $500 USD

Insurance Value

$800 USD
What does this mean?

Hi Stephen,

Thank you for contacting Mearto with your appraisal inquiry. The bookcase looks like it's made of maple; the desk appears to be walnut.
Did the bookcase once sit on top of the desk? That would be the only way these two relate to each other and can be appraised in the same inquiry; otherwise a separate inquiry needs to be submitted. I will appraise the desk here as it has greater value than the bookcase...
Stylistically, the bookcase seems to me to be slightly later (younger) than the desk, which is what is known in the trade as a "Plantation Desk" and which often came with a bookcase top but if that were the case, the desk would have markings on the top to indicate where a bookcase once was and the bookcase would not have either the drawer or the feet it presently has. A mid 19th Century date for the desk is appropriate whereas a date of late 19th/early 20th Century is what the bookcase appears to be.
Based on the photographs and information provided, and subject to examination, this is:

A Victorian turned and joined walnut 'Plantation' desk
American, circa 1850s
The rectangular top over a corresponding frame fitted with a long drawer, raised on tall ring-turned tapering cylindrical legs; with a later glass top.
28 1/2 inches tall, 36 inches wide, 24 inches deep
PROVENANCE: purportedly originally owned by Reverend Thomas Hall Forster, Michigan, thence by descent
*represents a fair-market value for auction purposes; retail or asking price may vary.

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