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Thread: Eldred Wheeler Bonnet Top Secretary Desk in solid cherry - made in Massachusetts

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Alexandria VA
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    14,989

    Default Eldred Wheeler Bonnet Top Secretary Desk in solid cherry - made in Massachusetts

    SOLD 11/14/19


    In the 1980's and early 1990's we were Eldred Wheeler's largest dealer. They built superior reproductions in their workshop in Hingham. MA and I made many a trip to their facility to pick up furniture. In fact, this is where I learned about fine woodworking, being at their shop every 6 to 8 weeks to pickup furniture as they did not box and ship. They taught me about how to make good furniture.

    This Bonnet Top Secretary Desk was their Flagship piece and we sold these for $ 15,000 in 1994, twenty-five years ago. Eldred Wheeler is gone and no one makes a piece like this anymore. Between this Bonnet Top and the less costly Flat Top Secretary Desks, we used to sell about a dozen per year. I was able to acquire this example from an Estate Sale, and bought it because it was in such good shape. No panel cracks, no bonnet overlay cracks, no water stains, no shrinkage issues. Lid and doors are not warped. I have seen pre-owned ones come up for sale before, but they all had too many issues for me to be interested in them. This one has none - it was obviously well-cared for in a climate controlled home. Great color on the piece as well.

    After spending a few hours cleaning it up and polishing the hardware, it shines up like new again. This is all solid cherry. There are no veneers. Every joint is dovetailed and / or mortise and tenon-ed pinned. There are (13) secret compartments which in the 1700's were used to hide valuables. All carvings were done by hand. Brass is real, not zinc-coated imports. Has the original two keys. A few minor pressure marks on the unit, but they are very slight. This is a hand-crafted unit that would cost you every bit of $ 25,000 to have made today, if you could find someone to do it that had the skill set. The American Reproduction industry has collapsed, and all the craftsmen that used to do this sort of thing are gone.

    I believe this is very early Eldred Wheeler as it has the little ditty in one of the document drawers that Emmett Eldred liked to write in there personally (they only made about twenty of these Bonnet Tops per year and perhaps twenty-five of the Flat Top Model). So probably around 1983 to 1989. Once the company was sold to Chartwell in 1991 and Emmett left, no one bothered to do this. There are (13) hidden compartments on the desk, shown in one of the photos. Back in the day, there were no banks in Colonial America so hidden compartments was were valuables were kept.

    In my store at $ 5,995, and of course, one only.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by drcollie; 11-14-2019 at 09:14 AM.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Eldred Wheeler Bonnet Top Secretary Desk in solid cherry - made in Massachusetts

    Three more photos

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by drcollie; 11-13-2019 at 12:21 PM.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

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