Finding out about a desk

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Blog entry by Dan Lyke posted 07-25-2007 04:29 AM 938 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My sweety procured a desk, under the condition that we figure out how to remove it from the house it was coming from, thinking that we’d use it for the wood. It’s got a typewriter lift, so it’s definitely pre-computers and probably pre-electric typewriters, and as we’ve dug into it, even though we don’t need a desk, we’ve started wondering whether we should cut it up for lumber or try to restore it.

The vertical pieces are all solid wood, the top and drawer faces have a veneer that’s amazingly thick. The core of various veneered pieces is solid wood, although there’s sometimes an 1/8” thick piece in between the core wood and the veneer (I assume that there’s some issue about cross-grain expansion that that’d help resolve).

The drawers are dovetailed, and the blind dovetails appear to be hand-cut, the interior of the tails has a little bit of overcut that you wouldn’t get with a router cut dovetail, and the spacing isn’t quite even.

The typewriter lift messages says “Please see Decalcomania for further instructions on operation and care.”, but I can’t find any record of a “Decalcomania” as a furniture manufacturer or seller, the name seems to refer to a printmaking process.

At the very least it’d need to be refinished, and if we were going to refinish it we’d do it in an entirely different style, but does anyone out there have any idea if this has value to someone? Suggestions on how to proceed? We’re thinking of turning a good portion of it into a small chest of drawers, but even though refinishing it would be a major chore it seems a shame to cut it up when good portions of it are really nicely (albeit in a factory grade) built, and we’re wondering if it might have value to anyone?


-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

2 comments so far

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1404 posts in 4076 days

#1 posted 07-25-2007 11:16 PM

What is a typewriter ? :-)

Neat find. I just Googled Decalcomania and it appears you are correct . . . it is not a manufacturer. BUT . . . if you could date when that word was most likely to be used and from that you could possibly nail down a date of manufacturer. Are there any other marks on the piece that you could Google??

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Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4124 days

#2 posted 07-26-2007 02:25 AM

Nope, there’s two warning labels on the typewriter lift to make sure you don’t injure yourself (we’ve been thinking it’d either make a great sewing machine lift or, with the addition of 15lbs of ballast, a laptop lift), but nothing else.

The term “Decalcomania” seems to date from the late 1800s, although from the foot style (not shown) I’d guess this desk is somewhere between the late 1940s and early 1960s, but I’m not sure when it got shortened to “decal”, or when it was used in place of “label” (which is the other interpretation I can make of that sticker, that it’s saying “read the other label”).

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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