Louisiana Antique Appraisal Surfaces a Philadelphia Desk to Benefit a Muscular Dystrophy Patient

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A early Philadelphia Chippendale desk with its first owners' names written in pen on an inside drawer will be featured at the Winter Antiques Show to benefit the Louisiana State Museum on December 4 - 5. Long overlooked in a muscular dystrophy patient's bedroom, the early American desk is expected to sell for around $100,000.

A rare early American Philadelphia desk, with its first owners' names and bank balance penned on the inside of a drawer, is looking for a new home. The Philadelphia Chippendale desk was found tucked away in the bedroom of a Baton Rouge muscular dystrophy patient and is the perfect example of how an antique appraisal can help secure the future.

The owner of the Philadelphia-made desk did not think it was particularly valuable when she called in antique appraiser David J. Goldberg, President of The Appraisal Group of New Orleans (http://www.appraisalgroupusa.com). Ironically, Mr. Goldberg has a history of identifying valuable oil paintings and antiques that other appraisers have overlooked.

According to Mr. Goldberg the desk is a close copy of the Philadelphia desk shown in Wallace Nutting's "Furniture Treasury," Plate 638. Mr. Goldberg said identifying the desk and its period was the easy part. Unraveling the mystery of the writing on one of the vertical drawers by the central cupboard was another matter.

The antique appraiser studied the inscriptions for hours. The bracketed names, Israel and Isaiah, written twice, do not belong to any known Philadelphia maker. Further complicating the mystery was a sum that looked suspiciously like a bank balance. $5843.32 1/2 cts (sic) did not make sense, nor did a nearby set of subtracted figures.

It took time and research but Mr. Goldberg determined that the names were the keys to ownership. Provenance, as an antique's lineage is called, is one of the characteristics that can increase value.

A genealogical search turned up Israel and Isaiah Morris, a father and son business team, working in Cambria County, Pennsylvania in the 19th Century. That put the date of the desk at the last quarter of the 18th Century. The numbers, Mr. Goldberg surmises, do reflect a bank tally and the arithmetic is possibly the price of the desk subtracted.

The story of the Philadelphia desk with its unusual personal notations could have ended in just another auction transaction, as so often happens when appraisers don't understand their clients needs or the best place to sell unique items.

But Mr. Goldberg is no ordinary appraiser (http://www.appraisalgroupusa.com). His business is built on relationships as well as knowledge. So, he estimated the importance of the antique's sale to his client's well being.

Because the client is in need of on-going medical treatment, David J. Goldberg is looking for a private sale at the Winter Art & Antiques Show for the benefit of Louisiana State Museum (http://www.winterartandantiques.com). The dates are December 4th and 5th. The venue, the Old U.S. Mint, New Orleans.

Notably, this is not the first time a piece of Philadelphia furniture from a Louisiana home has made history. In 2008, a miscataloged Philadelphia highboy brought $731,000 at a local auction. The price then soared to $1,082,500 (including buyer's premium) when it was re-sold that same year at Christie's in New York.

Mr. Goldberg's Philadelphia desk discovery comes on the heels of another recent find and its successful sale. Mr. Goldberg identified a famous oil painting by Albert Bierstadt in a client's home. The Western painting entitled "Above the Timberline" made more than $100,000 at the 2010 Coeur d'Alene Art Auction (http://www.appraisalgroupusa.com/news).

The Philadelphia desk will be on exhibit in the booth of Lord Goupil Antiques at the inaugural Winter Art & Antiques Show for the Benefit of the Louisiana State Museum (http://www.winterartandantiques.com.) Interested collectors can get a sneak preview of the early American desk by contacting David J. Goldberg at 504-282-7611.


The Appraisal Group was started in 1994 by David J. Goldberg and his father, Morton Goldberg...
The Goldbergs owned the largest auction gallery in New Orleans and the South for many years...
David Goldberg holds degrees from Columbia University and the University of North Carolina...
He has taught course in antiques and appraisals at Tulane University for 14 years and has been a professional appraiser for the past 15 years. (http://www.appraisalgroupusa.com) (504) 282-7611.

For interviews or more information, please David J. Goldberg (504) 282-7611, mortongoldberg@cox.net or Regina Kolbe, PR To the Trade, (212) 665-6773, info(at)prtothetrade(dot)com (http://wwwprtothetrade.com.)

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