A mahogany partner's pedestal desk
Lot 98
A mahogany partner's pedestal desk
£3,000 - 5,000
US$ 4,400 - 7,300

Amended

Lot Details
A mahogany partner's pedestal desk
A mahogany partner's pedestal desk
the rectangular moulded top inset with a gilt tooled leather inset writing surface, with a central hinged ratcheted writing slope and a detachable book rest, above three frieze drawers, over a central arched kneehole flanked by six drawers, with a conforming opposing arrangement of simulated drawers, on plinth bases and castors, remodelled or reconstructed, late 18th century elements,, 173cm wide, 76cm deep, 75cm high (68in wide, 29 1/2in deep, 29 1/2in high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Some private papers, addressed to the immediate family of Colonel A. Martin-Leake, V.C. evidently following the latter's death in 1953, were discovered behind the drawers of the present lot. This appears to prove that the above desk was previously owned by Arthur Martin-Leake, V.C.

    Colonel Arthur Martin-Leake, V.C.

    Shortly after his attendance at University College London, where Arthur Martin-Leake (1874-1953) qualified MRCS and LRCP in medicine in 1898, Arthur became a trooper in the imperial yeomanry upon the outbreak of the Boer war. Following a transfer to the South African constabulary the very next year, he was elevated to the position of surgeon-captain.

    In 1902 at Vlakfontein, South Africa, Arthur Martin-Leake was shot three times by the enemy while he ran out amidst a barrage of heavy fire in order to give medical assistance to a seriously wounded fellow officer. He only desisted from giving aid once he had become physically unable to continue helping, and only allowed himself water once all the other injured men had first had a chance to drink some. This intensely heroic and selfless action led to Martin-Leake being awarded the Victoria Cross on 13th May in the same year.

    During his time in South Africa, Arthur was one of a number of civilian surgeons who was very critical of the British army's medical arrangements. And perhaps his most severe criticism was reserved for the RAMC's (Royal Army Medical Corps) apparently feeble and inhumane preparations for the typhoid epidemic in 1900 that was to prove so immensely destructive for the army.

    Once the Boer war was over, Arthur moved to India and accepted the position of chief medical officer for the Bengal-Nagpur railway, where he was able to finesse his surgical abilities and increase his medical knowledge, while also being responsible for the running of the local hospital.

    At the beginning of the First World War, Martin-Leake re-joined the RAMC. And, while serving as a medical officer posted at Zonnebeke in Belgium between 29th October and 8th November 1914, he acted unceasingly with a selfless disregard for his own safety by once again rushing to the aid of wounded British troops stranded in 'No-Man's land'. Often these wounded soldiers had been shot down within extremely close range of the German trenches over the course of one of the bloodiest and most devastating battles of all time, the first battle of Ypres. For such incredibly heroic actions, Martin-Leake was the first man to be awarded a bar to his Victoria Cross on 15th February 1915.

    Although Arthur Martin-Leake, V.C. officially retired in 1937, he returned to active duty by gaining command of a Mobile Air Raid Precaution Unit in Puckeridge during the Second World War. Other than his renowned bravery, he was also widely respected as a gentleman of good character and lover of the outdoors throughout his extraordinary life.

    M. Harrison, "Leake, Arthur Martin- (1874-1953)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn., May 2005.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note the Provenance for the present lot should read as follows: Formerly housed at Marshalls, High Cross in Hertfordshire, the family home of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Martin-Leake, V.C. and bar. LRCP, FRCS.
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