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Antiques & Collecting: Davenports, Canterburys and Teapoys

PUBLISHED: 16:07 06 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:17 20 February 2013

Victorian rosewood canterbury, value £720-£920

Victorian rosewood canterbury, value £720-£920

Davenports, Canterburies and teapoys are three pieces of furniture particularly associated with the Victorian era which are still popular and useful today.

The Davenport was a lady's desk with a sloping lid and large space below. It often had two or more small interior drawers and long deep drawers at the right-hand side which took up the whole inner space - the drawer knobs on the left-hand side were dummies. Some types had boldly curving leg supports, which were usually carved, and a small top rail with compartments for stationery. They were all beautifully made of rosewood or walnut and are perfect for small rooms or modern flats. The name Davenport is supposed to be derived from the designer and the earlier type, c.1800, was high and square with brass galeries. In Victorian times, larger homes would have one in nearly every bedroom, while in smaller houses no morning room was complete without one where the owner could store her household accounts, recipe books etc. In fact it was almost a universal piece of furniture in every lady's domain.

As a functional writing desk with a maximum amount of space in a small compact piece, the Davenport has never been surpassed. They are keenly sought after when they come onto the market and prices, depending on condition and quality, can range from several hundreds to thousands of pounds.

The Canterbury in its earlier form was of simple well-balanced proportions, consisting of three or four dividing racks under a shelf, on plain legs and feet. Later on they became larger and more elaborate with scrolled, lyre-shaped partitions in open-work carving. Today they are in demand for use as magazine racks but they were designed to hold music or portfolios. Canterbury's date back to late Georgian times and, as with the Davenport, the name comes from the original designer.

Teapoys are boxes on a pillared supports with tripod feet and are usually made of beautifully figured rosewood. The interior of the better types contains two compartments with boxes lined with foil, for green and black tea, and two lined compartments, one for a cut-glass sugar bowl and one for mixing the teas. Very few now have the silver or glass fittings intact. As with Davenports and Canterburies, the teapoy fits well into a modern house and does not clash with modern furniture;

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