Dr. Lori standing next to antique desk

by Dr. Lori Verderame

I discovered and appraised Thomas Jefferson’s writing desk from his summer home called Poplar Forest located in Bedford County, Virginia, on Discovery channel’s international hit TV show, Auction Kings. Jefferson’s writing desk showed typical period design elements and had traits associated with hand-made furniture of the early 1800s in America. The desk, in the popular Hepplewhite style of the time based on the designs of craftsman George Hepplewhite, featured a slant top writing surface, bracketed feet, drawers with original batwing drawer pulls, interior letter slots, and cubbie holes to hold small personal items and stamps.

Thomas Jefferson desk and Dr. Lori

When assessing the Jefferson writing desk, just like evaluating various other pieces of antique furniture like Duncan Phyfe furniture, blanket chests, and armoires, I considered traits consistent with period furniture like types of wood used, hardware, styles and design attributes and condition.

Over the years, objects belonging or related to Thomas Jefferson have sold on the antiques and collectibles market. Jefferson’s personal letters, signed documents, and autographs along with objects that speak to his contribution to American history have commanded high values. Other Jefferson objects are valuable like Jefferson peace medals relating to the Native Americans worth several hundreds of dollars, signed military documents and commissions signed while Jefferson was President of the United States of America which are worth thousands of dollars and the list goes on. In addition to the objects that belonged to Jefferson directly and attract collectors, there are also items that are collectible which feature Jefferson and his likeness like collectibles postage stamps, political campaign ephemera and memorabilia including Presidential campaign collectibles, fine art paintings and sculptures, prints, Royal Doulton Toby Jugs, etc. Read more about Presidential campaign collectibles.

What to Look For

When considering Thomas Jefferson antiques and collectibles like inauguration papers, campaign materials, signed government documents, family heirlooms, personal effects, and objects from Jefferson’s homes at Monticello and Poplar Forest, tracing the chain of ownership is key to establishing authenticity and important when assessing value. When considering the interest in those objects that feature Jefferson in some way, look for quality materials and good condition.

Get an online appraisal report of your Thomas Jefferson antique or collectible from Dr. Lori.