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( A ‘who done it’ with apologies to Andras Vajda.)

“Slumped on his desk, weak and dying,

There the shattered dealer lay,

Whilst around him, staff were crying,

Shorter hours & higher pay…………!”

This sad little ditty paints a picture in the mind doesn’t it? Antique dealer found dying slumped across his desk. There are lots of questions to ask here. Not least, did he jump or was he pushed i.e. suicide or murder most foul?

Was he found with empty bottle of whiskey, smoking pistol in hand and a letter from his bankers telling him that they now owned him totally, body & soul, and intended to nail him firmly to the ground and punish him greatly because he had exceeded his modest overdraft by a single dollar. Whilst also thanking him for his valued custom - as they do.

Maybe no weapon was found in his hand or nearby, so could he have been murdered whilst his staff was busy having a long tea break and shouting about pay and conditions? If so, who would do such a thing? A fellow jealous dealer perhaps but that’s not very likely. Maybe one of the bigger auction houses arranged a ‘hit’ because the cheque he presented was bounced by his friendly bank for being that single dollar over his limit. According to some contributors of AAD these auction houses are reputedly capable of all things dark and evil, second only to banks, so it’s possible, who knows?

More likely the poor chap was just totally worn out by trying to sustain a business through a long and seemingly never-ending recession caused in the main by the banking industry. ‘Not helped by rent and rate increases, tax demands, falling sales and greedy staff that he would like to sack but could not because he could not afford their redundancy payments. Maybe he first contemplated drinking the whiskey and then shooting his staff, but then that letter arrived from his grateful bank who values his custom, finally tipped him over the edge with a massive heart attack. Now he is as dead as last week’s news.

We will never know and we can only guess about the final cause of death, but I bet we know a whole stack of things about the desk over which he popped his clogs.

No serious antique dealer, nor indeed any real business man of substance, culture and finesse would ever dream of dying at a desk that was not a fine antique one, (‘Fully restored & in showroom condition. Offered only to you, 10% off list price – cash, no cheques. Talk to me later!’) The desk in question must have been a large flat-top kneehole, or pedestal type, possibly even a Dickens desk. At the very least English Victorian period or better still Georgian.

A reproduction ? You must be joking! Most of us would much prefer to stay alive than be seen dead across a reproduction desk. Certainly our late dealer friend – the very idea, pah!

There is something very special, even magical about a genuine antique desk. Constructed to the highest joinery standards, of the finest materials and built to last for generations. Heavy. We recently sold a mahogany Victorian partners desk which took four men to lift. The purchaser having to first arrange for a builder to remove both the doors & the door frames to get it into his office. They impart a definite sense of gravitas and security to those who sit either behind or before them and are very much favoured by the legal, medical and financial professions because of this effect. ‘Ever sought after, and increasingly difficult to find genuine ‘fresh to the market stock’, they have not only held value during the economic turndown but have steadily increased in price during it.

It is arguable that no other item of furniture has played a greater role in shaping the everyday destiny of mankind than the humble desk. We all live daily with decisions made at them. Global wars are started and ended. Careers and fortunes made and lost. Love affairs begun, happy laughter & bitter tears shed. Bankers draft letters of the type which sent our dealer over the edge, and as we have seen, people die at them. The list goes on and on because nothing is new in this world and the old desk will have seen it all before, many times over. Everything from the mundane to the utter bizarre. How about this quote from author Steven King:

“People think that I must be a very strange person but it’s not true. I have the heart of a small boy, …… and I keep it in a glass jar on my desk.”
For preference it should have been that banker’s heart in the jar but we all know they don’t have them. And so, with that really rather unpleasant thought in mind I will end this dark monologue and wish you all good night.

Sleep well………….