Q: This is a photo of a secretary desk that I have. It was purchased from a friend in 1974 for $75. It is walnut, has the original finish and, with the exception of a few small scratches, it is in excellent condition. It is in two parts and the finial at the top can be removed. In the cubby holes, there are two hidden drawers that can be pulled out. It has ball and claw feet and the original pulls. I plan to give it to one of my children and would like to know more about its history, age and value. I hope you can help.
A: Your secretary is a Colonial Revival desk that was made in the early to mid-1900s. It is often called a “Governor Winthrop” bookcase/secretary. According to legend, John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts, had a desk like yours. The fact is the drop front design was not seen until around 50 to 100 years after Governor Winthrop existed. Some historians attribute the “Governor Winthrop” to the Winthrop Furniture Company in Boston. A Colonial Revival secretary debuted in 1924 and they dubbed the new model the “Governor Winthop.” Today similar Governor Winthrop secretaries are selling anywhere from $500 to $1000.
Q: There is a mark on the back of a plate that belonged to my great-grandmother. The plate measures approximately 12 x 6 inches and is in mint condition. It is decorated with a hunting scene. There is one woman riding a horse and four men also on horseback and a boy standing on a fence. We plan to keep the plate in the family and pass it down to the next generation. Anything you can tell us about the manufacturer, where it was made, its age and value will be greatly appreciated.