Secretary Desk

Artifact Name: Secretary Desk

Creator/Manufacturer: Uncertain, possibly Sheboygan Novelty Company

Location: Home of Michael and Esther Steil, West Bend, Iowa, USA

Material(s): Wood (possibly oak), glass

Photographer: Esther Marie “Esty” (Anliker Wilson) Steil

Provenance: Mary (Moser) Schmidt (1875-1958)Lydia Margaret (Schmidt) Wilson (1907-1993) → Esther Marie “Esty” (Anliker Wilson) Steil

Time Period: 1900-1910

DESCRIPTION: This antique secretary desk is an escritoire-style piece, made of wood (possibly oak), with two shelves on the lower level, enclosed in wooden-framed glass doors, a pull-out drawer above the two shelves, a pull-down desk door with floral flourish appliques above the drawer, and two half-width drawers on the left side of the top, with a French mirror on the right side of the top. This desk was owned by Mary (Moser) Schmidt, wife of Henry John Schmidt Sr., and sat in their enclosed front porch at their home (607 2nd Ave. SW, West Bend, Iowa). Stylistically consistent with the “ladies’ desks” sold by the Sheboygan Novelty Company between 1900-1910. It was passed down to Mary and Henry’s daughter, Lydia (Schmidt) Wilson, who subsequently passed it down to her adopted daughter (biological niece), Esther “Esty” (Anliker Wilson) Steil. Says Esty: “When Mom [Lydia] got the secretary from Grandma’s house, it was dark black varnish finish. It was in our basement and we got some water that made a mess of the legs, so Mom took it to be refinished. After being refinished, Mom moved it to our dining room. This is how it turned out. Now sits in my living room.”

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