Brunk Auctions
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Sat, Aug 1, 2020 09:00AM EDT
Lot 1187

Rare Historic Georgia Federal Desk and Bookcase

Estimate: $12,000 - $18,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $25
$100 $50
$1,000 $100
$2,000 $200
$3,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000
probably Albany area, Georgia, circa 1815, finely constructed, with plum pudding mahogany veneers, yellow pine and poplar secondary, removable inlaid shaped pediment with original ball finials, the upper case with glazed doors opening to an adjustable shelved interior, lower case with finely fitted butler's desk with figured lightwood veneers, six drawers and eight cubby holes centering a removable prospect door centering a fine inlaid federal eagle with sixteen stars, opening to three additional drawers, on original turned legs, original brasses, 106-1/2 x 46-3/4 x 22 in.Note: This fine desk and bookcase is remarkably well documented through several generations of a Georgia family. The desk is accompanied by the original inventory of the estate of Benjamin Leigh from 1830 that lists the holdings of this prosperous estate, including 34 slaves, individually noted, furnishings, horses, and other possessions. This desk and bookcase is specifically listed on the inventory as a "secretary & book case" at $137.50. The desk is also accompanied by the original will of Benjamin Leigh from 1826 that specifically mentions the desk: "...except my secretary and book case and books, which I give to Benjamin Leigh, son of my nephew Anselm B. Leigh..." The path of this desk and bookcase through the Leigh family is again documented in the will of Anselm Bugg Leigh (taken April 1853), wherein he notes "I give and devise to my son Anselm Leigh the following... my secretary and book case, and after the death or marriage of his mother, Eleanor Leigh, my silver teapot, creamer pot, and sugar dish." The desk and bookcase appears again in the May 16, 1926 edition of the Atlanta Journal, where it is pictured as a notable heirloom of Mrs. Nelly Leigh Cook of Newnan. The desk is further accompanied by the engraved silver pocket watch with the engraved monogram "A.B.L" and British hallmarks dating it to 1817, and two embossed leather pocketbooks, the first inscribed "Benjamin Leigh's pocketbook February 20th, 1849, Coweta County, Georgia" and containing three Confederate notes, and the second similar pocketbook still retaining a receipt from the Georgia Salt Manufacturing Company dated May 4, 1862 to Benjamin Leigh. In a fine state of preservation, this rare desk and bookcase is among the best documented examples from Federal period Georgia. , Provenance: by direct descent in the family of Benjamin Leigh (1761-1830, married 1799) of Augusta, Georgia. Passed to nephew Anselm Bugg Leigh, Jr. (nephew of Benjamin Leigh, 1794-1853, moved to Coweta County in 1835), to Anselm Benjamin Leigh (1818-1848), to Mary Ellen (Nelly) Leigh (1856-1927), to Samuel Leigh Cook (1883-1973), to Francis Margaret (Polly) Cook (1923-2020)


survives in an excellent state of preservation, with original pediment, finials, feet, and brasses; drawer facings with some cracks, minor repairs, and one chip at upper corner, losses and abrasions to beaded base molding, original muntins with some elements of probably original glazing, surface stains and scratches especially at top of lower case, lacking one brass escutcheon, other typical scattered surface flaws