Antique Side by Side Secretary Desk

What is the History of an Antique Secretary Desk? What is the Value of An Antique Side-by-Side Secretary Desk?

What is the History of this Antique Secretary Desk?

This Antique Secretary Desk was made in circa 1910-1920. This Antique Secretary Desk has many stylistic qualities that help us situate it in this time period.

Antique Side by Side Secretary History

Antique Side by Side Secretaries often fall in the late 19th century to early 20th century. This antique side by side secretary design is historically situated between the end of the Victorian period and the beginning of Art Nouveau design.

The antique drop front desk, or often called a side by side secretary, is a late 19th Century Victorian period furniture invention. The desk combines a bookcase or curio with a small writing desk, and has multifunction of storage and writing surface. Thus the name, “Side by Side Secretary.”

Indeed these types of antique secretary desks are often seen in oak. This particular antique model is elevated with solid mahogany, a prime and rare wood valued for its strength and beauty.

Art Nouveau Style Desk

side by side secretary valueThis antique drop front desk is rare too, because of its intricate inlay work of satinwood, rosewood and mother of pearl within the desk surface. Feathered glass on the cabinet door, fitted with a fine mahogany overlay, also adds drama and interest to the piece of antique furniture.

Feminine swirls of inlay and mother of pearl decorate the drop down desk surface. Additionally, carvings on the bookcase side echo these feminine details.

Victorian Furniture often has this level of detail. However, the sinuous lines of this inlay decoration really echo Art Nouveau style as well.

What is the Value of this Antique Side by Side Secretary?

We sold this antique side by side secretary in late 2016 or 2017. Our happy client fell in love with the detail and romance of this antique desk.

antique secretary desk

The antique side by side desk sold for between $500-$800 at that time. Similar antique desks may be worth more or less, depending on the condition, rarity and overall intricacy.

Light flaws to the inlaid surface may have hurt the overall antique value of this desk. In pristine condition, we may expect to see prices of $1000-$1500 for this particular side by side secretary.

Have you purchased a similar side by side secretary? Let us know in the comments below!

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18 thoughts on “What is the History of an Antique Secretary Desk? What is the Value of An Antique Side-by-Side Secretary Desk?

  1. I’ve inherited a tiger wood side by side secretary, but the mirror is missing. Does that significantly drop the value?

    1. Yes, because it will cost money to fix it. Value is based on condition, A piece of furniture that needs repair antique or modern has value pretty much only to the person who can fix it.

  2. I inherited my Grandmother’s side by side. It is mahogany with wood wheels, locking drawers with 3 original keys to lock the stained glass curved front curio. 4 drawers that have veneer, an alcove over the drop down desk and an ornate cubby above that and a mirror across the top of the two sides (not visible due to my stein collection). Mine certainly is late Victorian and other design elements are a bit Art Deco, I could never really put that together until your article. Great article. Any ideas on maker or years? There are no markings I can locate.

    1. Nice comment Diane,
      many side by sides were made between say 1870 and 1930. The years mentioned would usually have fancier side by sides. Most oak side by sides for instance were from 1890 to 1910 . I have not seen yours but the wood wheels and use of mahogany make me think of a piece that would have been from a large trade city where money was more prominent and homes would be fancy. metal wheels are seen on items after say 1900, some wood wheels still, but most likely. Many antique furniture pieces from the late 1800’s early 1900’s at times have a stores name not the actual maker.

  3. Hi. I just purchased a side by side secretary desk, it’s a plan to restore it, not in perfect condition and needs to be repainted. I have the original mirror, the curio side glass broke ,so i didn’t take it with me.
    The desk side its a front drop, drawer underneath that then a door that opens to the side(to the right) have all hardware and glass inserts for the curio side.
    Has some engraving all over and peacock like on the top portion of both sides….its pretty overall.
    Any idea or information will be appreciated, i wish i can attach a picture to comments…
    Thank you 😊

    1. Hi Judith, It is hard to say without seeing the photo, but it sounds like your side by side desk may be from the 1930s. Best of luck with the restoration project! Thank you for writing!

    2. I just inherited a side by side secretary desk, I am trying to find out when it is from and if it is worth restoring, or if that would depreciate the value, it has a curved glass door on the curio side, a fold down desktop on the right side, and the label from the furniture maker is damaged, but reads

      “Cowpert (cuts out here) Co.”
      “Flatbush Ave, Brooklynn”

      I tried to search online, but haven’t found a furniture maker by that name in the 1900s

      Has anybody heard of a company that fits this description? And is anybody able to give me an idea of the piece’s value and when it was made?

    3. Hi Samantha, the lable was probably the stores name that sold the piece, the name is not familiar to us. For value condition means everything. A 1900’s early side by side in oak which is common would be $300 to $500 at auction in mint condition and maybe $600 to $900 retail, but i have not seen the piece. If the antique is mahaogany and/or inlaid with pretty lines it would/will be worth considerable more. Refinishing can be expensive so that would be a personal choice. Enjoy your find! and thank you for the comment.

  4. Hi,
    I just purchased a side by side secretary desk, thought to be a vanity.
    Delighted at what I actually have but am unable to find anything like it on line.
    Its desk portion does not drop down but instead opens from left to right and is very curved. Writing surface drops down but then unfolds once more making for a very roomy writing space.
    I’ve not found one like it as of yet.
    The only writing or marks/label on it is the word ” Patent” engraved on edge of writing surface.
    Would really appreciate any opinion/knowledge of its kind.
    Thank you
    Jamie Mauldin

    1. Hi Jamie! It sounds like a really nice desk. I may be able to give you at least a rough estimate on time period and value if I were to see it. If you would like to send me a photo or two, please find my email in the contact page. Thanks, Rachel

    1. Hi Ali! In old days, curios and bookcases were largely the same thing. Simply a case with shelves and a glass door. So, people would keep both books and other objects like knick-knacks inside. I generally call it a bookcase though, since mostly they end up in offices nowadays. Hope that helps! Thanks for reading!

  5. I just purchased a side by side from Mechanics Funture Company… It’s in good condition and every lock on the drawers still work. It has the wooden wheels as well it has the number 32 but it also lools to be 382 on the back engraving.

  6. Where is the best place to find some information of a side by side desk secretary? I don’t know where to start. I have found similar items but nothing the same. It has been in my family for a very long time.

    1. HI Denice. You could send me some photos if you would like. Every antique is usually unique, but I may be able to give you a little information on the time period. Best, Rachel

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