Treasure Box Wednesday: For the Love of a Desk

I had no sooner set foot in the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Monroeville, when my eyes fell upon the desk of my dreams. Not that I'd actually been dreaming about it, per se... I mean, I didn't know something quite so weird and wonderful would have existed...

But this carved ladies writing desk, with storage inside, was too unusual to pass up... I notified the cashier right away that it would be coming home with me, before any interlopers put a crimp in my future desk adoration.

As you can probably see, it's got some issues. Scratches and gouges to the finish, and some loose legs indicate a good suring-up and possibly a finish job in its near future. I'm debating painting it cream and using it in my blue room, where the courting couple designs would be wonderfully at home...

But it's a tough call. I think given its life hardships, I probably wouldn't be devaluing anything important by doing so. But neither do I want to slap paint on something I really shouldn't.

In terms of date, I'm thinking it may be from the Depression era. The lady pictured here in the center appears, if I'm not mistaken, to be wearing a 20s/30s sort of hat, along with bob hair...
I love the almost art-nouveau fluidity of the lines around the top.

Anyway, while it may seem anticlimactic after the desk, I also found some vintage tins this week. There were quite a few of them at the Goodwill on Carson Street in the Southside, and stylistically, they all seemed to be of one person's collection. I relieved them of three in the aqua and pink color palette...
Anyway, they'll be nice for gifting. Pretty on the outside, and containing goodies therein! (Also, I won't have to wrap things... which is a gift in itself because I'm lousy at it, and avoid wrapping at all costs.)

So that's today's Treasure Box Wednesday.


And I hope to see you this coming Sunday for more nifty thrifty fun!

22 comments:

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble said...

Love the desk but I am not sure if you should paint it until you see what the value of it is. Gorgeous though!!!
Debbie

Linda said...

What an unusual desk. I would try to find out more about it before painting also.

Nathalie Thompson said...

I am not one to slap paint on just anything, but with the scratches I'm seeing and the funny finish on the front of the desk (behind the silohettes), I say, if you have a vision for it painted, GO FOR IT! It's really not that pretty in wood and depression era furniture is not worth much (in my experience). This is not a dry sink with original milk paint, which you would totally devalue by refinishing. I think painting this desk will bring out the beautiful details and mask the flaws.

BTW, awesome finds (the tins too!)!

Jenn Thorson said...

Debbie and Linda- You all totally understand my dilemma then! For my needs, it would be perfect painted-- but for the piece's integrity and value, it's just hard to say.

I did a cursory look on Ebay and didn't spot anything like it. But that depends so much on timing.

Chris said...

Agree with everyone here...clean up the desk and maybe sandpaper/varnish, but double-check before painting. It is a beautiful piece..congrats!

Jenn Thorson said...

Nathalie- Thanks for the input. It's a consideration, certainly. You're right about the finish. And oddly enough, the camera brings out details that you can't see as well with the naked eye, due to the wood tones.

Chris- Thanks much, nice to share with folks who appreciate it, too. :)

Alex M said...

If only the Roadshow people were coming your way!!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Alex- Heh, we do have a sort of antiques-roadshow evaluation that goes on down at our History Center, as a part of a Pittsburgh's Hidden Treasures TV program.

I guess bringing the table would certainly be no worse than the folks who brought a toilet to it one season. :)

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

Wonderful pieces -- all of them. Would you consider posting how much you pay for your treasures? I always like to know (although I don't like the jealousy that follows!)

Jane: LA Boutique Wood Arts said...

I love when people bring pieces like this to my shop for repair. The wood carving is more intricate in craftsmanship than people realize. It gives me hope that someday one of my custom wood pieces will still be appreciated.

Jenn Thorson said...

Sandy- I do sometimes-- depends on how my brain is operating. :) The desk was on the high-end for thrifted stuff-- it was $45-- but I just couldn't pass it up. And the tins run around $1. Sometimes I can get them for a little less-- like $0.79. But that's becoming rarer.

Jane- You may very well be creating the heirlooms of the future. Especially because craftsmanship is becoming a more rare thing.

Ms. B said...

Great desk and love the tins as well! I think the desk would look fabulous painted!!

Andrea said...

What a unique desk! You are having the same dilemma that I'm having...to paint or not to paint. I have not made a decision on my new buffet either. The wood is so pretty, yet it has some scratches and gouges. Have you considered painting part of it, but not the people and steps across the front? It's your call, but please post pix of the finished work.

Melanie said...

That is a WAY cool desk. Personally, I wouldn't paint it. I like things with scratches and character, but that's just me. It does seem to be something that might well be a one of a kind.

Sarah said...

You must live in a magical thrift store area! I never see this type of thing in my area (Tacoma, WA). I think there are always so many dealers out before I make it to the store.

Jenn Thorson said...

Ms. B- I think I'm just going to clean it up for now-- which it definitely needs-- and see how I feel.

Andrea- Yes, it can be a hard decision. Most of the time the item is pretty standard in style, and I know for sure about when it was made, so I don't feel bad about painting. But this is such a weird case. If I only painted part of it, that would unfortunately potentially devalue it as much as painting the whole thing.

Melanie- I do too-- you guys know I buy stuff with cracks or chips if I like the style-- though first I dp want to see whether a bit of Murphy's oil soap and maybe some scratch filler might not smooth it out a little. I think in this case the dings take attention away from the design.

Sarah- We do have a lot of older people whose families end up selling off or donating whatever is in the house. Our houses date back to the Victorian era-- and in some cases a little earlier-- so it makes for some interesting items. We are lucky that way!

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble said...

Jenn,
I just read that you only paid $45 for the desk. I think you got a great deal on it for that price! Lucky you!
Debbie

cometkatt said...

LOVE the desk - would Hate to see it painted -- the wood is so much better - yes it has scratches etc but its part & parcel of its charactor that caught your attention in the first place :) - personally i hate painted furniture - i always strip it asap-- my mum had a bedroom set in chinese lacquer black - we stripped it & it was Mahogany! can you imagine they painted mahagony... go figure.. hope you Enjoy your treasure Immensely!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Debbie- Thank you-- it definitely would have been more than that at an antique store, so I feel pretty good about it.

CometKatt- Hey, thank you-- I'm leaning now heavily toward not painting it because I've found space for it in a room where it should look appropriate. I'm not one of those folks to paint everything I see, but there are times I feel the paint can be a good choice. It just depends on a lot of factors. I appreciate everyone sharing their feelings and ideas on this.

chuffle said...

Sigh...how I miss the Pittsburgh thrift shops.

Of course, this is your desk, and it should suit your needs. However, I always feel that nicks and scratches (as long as we are not talking damage due to terrible abuse) are a sign of a life lived, and are part of the piece's character. A good clean-up, some touch-up with Tibet Almond Stick, 0000 steel wool and some Black Bison paste wax would make the wood glow.

If I had the room in my guest room, I would covet this piece!

Great find, and I hope you enjoy it, no matter how you spiff it up!

Enjoy!

Joe

DiabeticSinglesDotCom said...

What an awesome deal for such a unique desk. I remember when I was younger my Mother used to have some of those tins.

Enjoy the desk!

Christy

lvroftiques said...

You must have some incredible thrift stores where you live! Did you end up painting the desk? I really hope not, because it's a very uncommon piece. It looks to be 1920's. I absolutely love it! Score you!! Vanna