Monday, July 9, 2012

In Praise of Hand-Me-Downs (The Sequel)

On June 19 of this year, I blogged about a cherished hand-me-down I'd been given by my mother--an oak sideboard that had been in our dining room while I was growing up and therefore plays a large part in some of my fondest memories of my childhood home.  Well, while my husband and I were recently in Upstate NY at a Pearl family gathering, I was given another spectacular hand-me-down: a bird's eye maple writing desk, a piece that was special to my late mother-in-law and which I'd always admired.  In an effort to clear out some of the clutter in the family homestead (the place to which the many members of the Pearl clan migrate every summer to enjoy the lake and each other), my sisters-in-law are trying to find new homes for some lovely but unwanted pieces of furniture that need to go.

No one expressed any interest in this desk, and the girls pretty much forced me to take it.  "Okay, okay; you don't have to twist my arm!" I said, and I did them a great big favor and took it off their hands.
I love, love, love this desk!  It has drawers and a pull-down writing surface, and best of all, these adorable little cubbies for storing things.  I love, love, love cubbies!  I have always wanted a little writing desk like this one.  I have priced them at furniture stores and found that even shoddily crafted modern reproductions, made out of pressed wood with stapled-on backs, were prohibitively expensive.  This one is a solidly built piece of antique furniture, with dovetail joints and everything--something I can imagine Jane Austen sitting at while she penned Pride and Prejudice (one of my favorite novels of all time).  Can't you just picture her working at this desk by candlelight, scratching away on a pad of paper, dipping her quill in an inkwell?
I do have an antique brass inkwell on top of my new desk (another treasured hand-me-down from my mom), as well as a framed photo of my own personal Mr. Darcy, my husband (taken about thirty-six years ago when the two of us young lovebirds were a heck of a lot less wrinkly than we are now).  But unlike Jane, I'll be writing by soft lamplight...on my trusty laptop computer.

Hey, what can I say?  I'm a modern gal, and--despite my love/hate relationship with technology and my fascination with anything old and history-filled, like this wonderful hand-me-down writing (make that blogging) desk--I enjoy the conveniences that electricity provides.  But I believe if Miss Austen was alive today, she would be a blogger, too.  So I'm keeping two excellent biographies of the famous author--Becoming Jane Austen, by Jon Spence and Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters, by William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh--close at hand on my desktop to provide me with the inspiration to keep on blogging.

I don't have the kind of writing talent that Jane Austen had; but now at least I've got the right kind of desk!


  1. That is BEAUTIFUL! I am trying to figure out which room you have it in. Is it in your office? What wonderful sisters-in-law you have!

  2. I have it in my bedroom, and it looks perfect there. :)

  3. OOOhhhh Okay! Well, it looks great!