George I architect’s desk

George I walnut and feather-banded architect’s desk, £14,000 at Sworders.

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One of the highlights of the two-day Fine Interiors sale at Sworders in Stansted Mountfitchet on March 14-15, it sold to an online bidder well above the guide of £2000-3000 to bring £14,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).

Condition and colour are key to the pricing of English walnut furniture. This 3ft 1in (92cm) wide desk is a textbook metamorphic form c.1720. It opens to reveal a ratcheted hinge action and a pull-out writing surface. Also concealed are a pair of retractable brass candle stands and a pull-out quadrant drawer.

Condition and colour

Although it will require professional attention to the veneers to bring it back to its best, it was – given the amount of the moving parts, age and use – in good structural and cosmetic condition.

Most of the brass work was original, the leather probably replaced but not recently, and the whole showed relatively little evidence of repair and alteration. “It’s going to be the most sensational colour when it’s given just a little light clean,” said auctioneer Guy Schooling.

Architect’s desk

A detail of one of the drawers in the George I architect’s desk.

The desk was sold to a London trade buyer bidding online. It was one of 63 lots in the sale from the estate of Sam and Althea Lloyd whose large collection was displayed over two homes, Oak House in Lutterworth and a London apartment overlooking Chelsea Physic Garden.

Sam was a distinguished nuclear physicist who for many years worked at power stations in the Netherlands.

His wife, raised in a Scottish castle and the daughter of the MP for Twickenham, was equally remarkable. The owner since the early Fifties of a 1936 Bentley convertible that she would frequently drive deep into Europe, for many years she kept a pet monkey that received regular exercise in Richmond Park. The couple were married for 45 years.