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6 Best Etsy Vintage Desks

Whether it’s our office working setup or our writing space, where one works is a reflection of their personality. Working spaces are inviting and cozy, with just the right blend of personal touches, no matter whether you’re a company person or a writer working from home. One of the best ways to amp up the style of a working or writing space is with a vintage desk. We’ve always loved the look of vintage desks, and when it comes to Etsy vintage desks, we’re more than a little biased – and totally impressed! Nothing quite makes an impression like a beautifully crafted old-time desk, but with so many styles available on Etsy, it could be a challenging task to whittle down the choices to one.

Luckily for you, we’ve put together a useful guide to the different kinds of vintage bureaus on Etsy so you can decide what suits you and your space the best.

The Parsons Nose Antique English Pine Pedestal Desk

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We begin the list with The Parsons Nose Antique English Pine Pedestal Desk. It’s so vintage that it leans towards being an antique; it dates back to the 19th century – 1890, to be particular. This good-looking and elegant English pine desk even has good storage, with two banks of drawers on both sides. Plus, there’s also a drawer in the middle, as well as other towns and rows of drawers, so we could put away most of our stationery. What’s more, the desk also had a great plinth base, good brass eagle hardware, and excellent dovetail construction. Finishing things up is the lovely, softly waxed finish – literally.

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Pros

  • It’s an heirloom imported from England.
  • Even though it has chips and dents in place, the patina is beautiful.
  • It’s made from pine.

Cons

  • Since it’s a rare find, it’s very expensive.
The Parsons Nose Antique English Pine Pedestal Desk - by Etsy
The Parsons Nose Antique English Pine Pedestal Desk – by Etsy

Mari Art And Furniture Steampunk Secretary Desk

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Now this is how we do steampunk! Behold the Mari Art And Furniture Steampunk Secretary Desk is a handmade, vintage piece that dates back to the 1980s. There are a lot of little details we love about this rare piece, starting with eleven little drawers where we could stash our stationery and other writing odds and ends. The top surface was ample for us to keep our 14-inch laptop, as well as the charger wire, a few notebooks and diaries, and a plant/pen stand. But what swept us off our feet was the middle area, which had color-changing LED lights that we could turn on/off with a remote control or manually. There’s also enough storage space in the middle, making this one of the best old-timey desks ever!

“Being fans of everything steampunk, we were over the moon to have this desk in our house!”

Dizzzi

Pros

  • This desk is well-made with solid wood with some MDF panels.
  • It’s been restored with care and painted too.
  • The beautiful colors epitomize the steampunk era.

Cons

  • There’s no shipping outside the continental United States.
Mari Art And Furniture Steampunk Secretary Desk - by Etsy
Mari Art And Furniture Steampunk Secretary Desk – by Etsy

Judy Frankel Antiques French Restoration Style Desk

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We were looking for unique and beautiful pieces, and the Judy Frankel Antiques French Restoration Style Desk was just that. This desk boasts a solid brass curule-style base with a mahogany veneered lift-top desk. What’s more, the desk has a beveled top on all sides, with the lift top featuring a functional key. Not only that, but it also came with lightly gilded decorative hardware and brass mounts. On the inside, the wood is blond in color and might be beech, but it’s certainly high-quality. Finally, the desk is finished in very good condition and comes with decorative mounts on all sides.

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Pros

  • Shipping in the US is free.
  • The desk is in very good antique condition.
  • It’s vintage, dating back to the 1900s.

Cons

  • It’s very, very expensive.
Judy Frankel Antiques French Restoration Style Desk - by Etsy
Judy Frankel Antiques French Restoration Style Desk – by Etsy

Niji Furnishing Antique Swedish Slant-top Writing Desk

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Since we’re writers, we’re always enamored by writing desks. That’s why we got excited looking at the Niji Furnishing Antique Swedish Slant-top Writing Desk. This magnificent desk is one gorgeous marriage of thoughtful design and antique character of a cottage-core seaside home. Thanks to the iron hardware and sturdy construction, this desk is straight out of an LoTR fable. Since we like to spread out while working, the desk’s layout gave us more room than we could ask for. Plus, the top swings back for even more storage. Is there anything not to like about this antique Etsy desk?

Pros

  • The desk has a large surface area.
  • The desk is handcrafted with great care.
  • It’s a vintage antique from the 19th century.

Cons

  • It’s expensive as it’s a rare find.
Niji Furnishing Antique Swedish Slant-top Writing Desk - by Etsy
Niji Furnishing Antique Swedish Slant-top Writing Desk – by Etsy

Sage Furnishings Rare Vintage French Writing Desk

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Hold your breath, for you’re going to be hit with something gorgeous – the Sage Furnishings Rare Vintage French Writing Desk. This vintage kidney-bear-shaped desk is stunning to the T and has been completely stripped, paint-washed, and glazed, having been refinished in style. In fact, the desk has even had its drawers lined and new hardware added, and we were thrilled by the additions. Since it’s a vintage desk from the 1930s, there are only minor, age-appropriate imperfections, with the desk having been preserved in great vintage condition.

Pros

  • This desk is vintage from the 1930s.
  • It’s in great vintage condition.
  • It’s been redone and refinished.

Cons

  • Shipping times are long.
Sage Furnishings Rare Vintage French Writing Desk - by Etsy
Sage Furnishings Rare Vintage French Writing Desk – by Etsy

86 Home Antique Writing Desk With Letterbox

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The 86 Home Antique Writing Desk With Letterbox sits at the top of the list. This vintage desk, which dates back to before the 2000s, is an elegant heritage Victorian desk. Not only does it feature three drawers for storage, but it also comes with an attached top letterbox. We could use the small shelf in the center drawer for writing accessories, coins, and other odds and ends. Moreover, the table has brass handles and wood appliqué detailing the letterbox, decorative details around the drawer knobs, and beautifully turned legs. Wrapping things up is the lovely patina.

Pros

  • This vintage desk comes from a heritage collection.
  • Even though it’s a vintage desk, its wear and tear is minimal, and it’s in good condition.
  • It also has great storage.

Cons

  • None.
86 Home Antique Writing Desk With Letterbox - by Etsy
86 Home Antique Writing Desk With Letterbox – by Etsy

How To Choose The Best Vintage Desks?

Types of desks

  • Roll-top desks: These late 18th-century desks are usually made from walnut, mahogany, or oak and were popular for their storage. This included pigeon holes, shelves, and drawers usually hidden behind a shutter or rolling door.
  • Secretaire desks: These antique-style secretary desks have hinged drop-down writing areas and can be made from hardwood or exotic woods like kingwood, tulipwood, and rosewood.
  • Ladies’ writing desk: These elegant, slender-legged desks shot to fame in 18th-century Paris. They’re also known as bonheur de jour (French for daytime delight) and have raised backs forming a cabinet with shelves/drawers and mirrors.
  • Partners desks: These for-two desks boasted large work areas and drawers on both sides, making for a grand centerpiece in the room’s center.
  • Pedestal desks: These antique desks, a.k.a. kneehole desks, have flat writing surfaces with two pedestals and drawers and date back to the Georgian era.

Space and storage

One of the most important things we looked for in writing desks was how we’d be using them. For those looking for desks where they can sit for long hours to work, then look for something large enough to fit a laptop, a keyboard, a screen, and maybe a few other sundry items. Also, workspaces today need to fit 21st-century equipment, like a tangle of cables, so you’ll need someplace to put them, too. 

Style

Even though vintage desks might be from another era, it’s best to buy something that’ll complement, if not match, the decor of the room where the desk will be. Also, we considered how much space we had available and whether the desk was designed to be used standalone or needed to be positioned against a wall.

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How can you tell if a desk is vintage?

Look for things like rose-head nails, hand-cut dovetails, and mortise-and-tenon joints.

How do you date a wooden desk?

One of the most common ways to date the piece is via the wood finish. For instance, shellac was the only clear surface finish until Victorian times, with varnish and lacquer not being developed until the mid-1800s.

What is the most famous of the old-fashioned desks?

That would be pedestal desks, a.k.a. tanker desks, which first appeared in England in the 1700s.

Some images in this article are copyrighted by Etsy.