Free Rolltop Desk
The desk. It nags at me like a millstone around my neck. Huge—72” x 36”—and non-functional, except as a beautiful exemplar of a bygone era, and as a repository for anything and everything which can end up on a table or in large drawer.
The desk came my way in 1980, as an early law school graduation gift. My mom, early on in her interior design career, found the desk for a close friend / client who became a gentleman rancher in his early 40s. MG loved the desk! My mom did too and got MG to promise her he’d sell it back to her before he’d part with it.
Skip ahead a couple / few years and MG and his wife move to a high-rise apartment in Southern California. No place for old wood! And it’s mine.
Within a short period of time the Gs return to Tucson. MG, from pictures, has a craftsman build him a replica. (Had I known about his intentions, the desk would have arrived at his home the morning after I got the news, along with a crew to reassemble it.)
The desk has sat in at least four offices and graced the study in my old home for many years. (At home it sat in a six-foot wide niche that looked like it was made for the desk.) I’m sure I have taken it apart and put it back together two dozen times. I’ve polished it not often enough. It has provided a home for trophies and artifacts and has surely seen its share of piles of paper, too.
As wonderful as the desk is, it fits my current life not at all. I live in Mid-Mod splendor. I use computers. And, consistently, I try to move myself into smaller and smaller spaces.
About 18 months ago I checked in with one of my closest friend’s daughter, who works for an online auctioneer, about selling the desk. “Let me check with our furniture department,” says she. Then, “They’re at auction this week.” Then, “Sorry, but no one wants your desk.” “Wait, Logan, no one?” “No one, Mark.”
I checked with used furniture stores. $300. Less.
I contacted a couple of antiques experts. Save your money, said one. Or sell it for $300.
I reached out to MG’s children, too. They knew about the desk. Not for them, though. Too big. No room. Etc. (G-d bless them, for possessions represent both bounty and burden!)
The underside of the middle drawer has an 1872 stencil in black paint. The inside of the left drawer stack has a five-digit number etched into the wood. This was a rich man’s desk. J.P Morgan, maybe. Or maybe Andy Carnegie. Who knows! (The lawyer ethical person within my being mandates this disclosure: I know nothing about who owned this desk, other than MG and me.)
The desk needs a good home. I know there are people in my ambit, broadly, who will love and cherish it. If you are that somebody, contact me. A comment here works. So does email@example.com. Or, firstname.lastname@example.org. I cannot honor Mel’s memory and leave the desk at Goodwill or some other charity. It needs the right owner!