Kneehole desk just needs a good cleaning

This kneehole desk was made in Europe about 100 years ago. After cleaning, polishing, and a new leather top, it would likely sell for more than $500. (Courtesy of John Sikorski)

Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 11:18 a.m.

Q: I am interested to see if a desk that was given to my wife is an antique and worth anything. The top of the desk is in rough shape as it is covered in leather, but the rest is in fair to good shape everywhere else. Any information on this piece would be greatly appreciated.

C.T., Internet

A: I think your kneehole desk was made in Europe about 100 years ago, or close to it. The wood appears to be oak. The legs are spool-turned, and the stretchers are barley twist. The leather can be replaced, and a little cleaning and polishing will go a long way to reviving its decorative look. Potential dollar value, as is, is in the $250 to $500 range. After cleaning, polishing, and a new leather top, it would likely sell for more than $500.

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Q: Your article in today's paper has prompted me to ask you about a small bronze I have been coveting for a long time. The trouble is I do not know the name of it or the artist, which is a bit of a handicap when I am looking for it online. I thought you might be able to identify it by my description and give me some information.

It portrays an Arab or Turk with a turban on his head sitting cross-legged on a rug. In front of him on the rug are knives and/or scissors, which I think he would be selling. It is quite small, about 6 inches wide by 4 inches deep, and maybe 6 inches high. I think it had very low-key paint on it. Would that mean it is a French bronze?

I understand that it is quite common and a lot were made, so you may have come across it in the past.

B.Z., Internet

A: I am quite sure, based on your description, you are looking for a Vienna bronze. From the last quarter of the Victorian Era and into the early 20th century, the decorative arts were heavily influenced by Moroccan and Orientalist styles. European artists and sculptors produced a wide variety of paintings and bronzes in the Orientalist motifs for well-to-do Victorians.

Franz Xavier Bergman, 1861-1936, was a sculptor in Vienna, Austria, as well as owning his own foundry. He produced numerous decorative cold-painted bronzes, as well as white metal Moroccan-themed figural statues in small sizes.

Not all of his works were signed, but signatures often are overlooked. Bergman used an impressed "B" sometimes inside a "U." He also used his name spelled backward, "Namgreb." The foundry closed in 1930 due to The Depression, and later was reopened by his son until 1954. Vienna bronzes can generally be purchased in the $250 to $1,000 range depending on material, condition and particular scene.

I suggest you do an Internet search for Bergman Vienna bronzes and cold-painted Vienna bronzes, and I am sure you will find the particular scene you have been looking for.

John Sikorski is an Ocala antiques dealer. He hosts a call-in radio show, "Sikorski's Attic,'' on WUFT-FM (89.1 FM). It can be heard each Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. Send your questions to Sikorski's Attic, c/o The Gainesville Sun, 2700 SW 13th St., Gainesville, FL 32608-2015; or email

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