|The Completed Desk|
A piece I recently restored was a secretary desk made by the Northwestern Cabinet Company of Burlington, Iowa. I believe the desk to have been made sometime around 1930. The Burlington Public Library has put together a webpage detailing the history of some of the furniture manufacturers of that town. An entry on the history of the Northwestern Cabinet Company can be found here. It is the third entry down:
In addition, while researching this desk I came across a photo taken recently of the factory. A link to that photo can be found here:
Below is a page from a catalog of the Northwestern Cabinet Company showing an almost identical desk to the one I worked on. The differences I can see are two more drawers inside the desk compartments as well as a slightly more elongated pediment. The original sale price in the catalog was $47.40.
The desk is referred to in the catalog as a "Governor Winthrop" desk. This is a bit of a misnomer as it was named after Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Governor Winthrop lived during the 17th century while the design of this desk reflects a mid to late 18th century taste and would most closely be associated with the Chippendale style. Wikipedia shed some light on the origin of this name, saying that it was first coined in 1924 buy the Winthrop Furniture Company of Boston Massachusetts, who offered the "Gov. Winthrop Desk" during the Colonial revival period in American furniture manufacturing. The use of this term dates the desk I worked on to after 1924 and realistically it was probably made in the 1930's, 1940's, or even as late as the 1950's. Below is a photo of the label on the back of the desk. The name of the manufacturer is seen in the bottom right hand corner of the label.
The advertisement above mentions that the desk was originally offered in a Walnut or Mahogany finish. Indeed, the primary wood used in this piece is Birch that has been stained and finished to resemble Mahogany. Birch was commonly used in this fashion because when stained, it has a look similar to Mahogany, and was much less expensive to use since it is a domestic wood. Below is a photo of the desk as it came into my shop. One of the drawer fronts had become loose, the feet were loose and missing portions on the claws, the finial was missing a portion, and the finish needed a cleaning and touch up. In addition, the false dividers for the glass were warped badly as was one of the drawer bottoms. One last piece was that the plating on the hardware had come off , revealing the metal sub layer which was pitted and rusted. The owner and I decided to replace the hardware, as seen later in the post.