Saturday 17 August 2013

Desk Hunting at Oshiwara Antiques Market

It has been ages since I have had to go in search of a new piece of furniture!

But as I've been spending so long at my desk (Nobel Peace Prize work, that type of thing), I decided that I could no longer make do with the tiny, laminate-encrusted-crime-against-style that sits in our study (otherwise known as 'that bloody awful desk').  Not that I usually really need much of an excuse to go antiques shopping - but this was a genuine need on my part.

I had already been all over the place looking for something suitable, at a reasonable price.  I've kind of wised up to prices (and the 'white man's tax') and will walk out of a place if I think I'm being ripped off. I've been to Moorthy's - where I was offered a huge desk for over 1 lakh (about £1,200/$1,800); I've been to Camelot - which always seems to be so low on stock these days (gosh, hopefully not due to my blog on that shop!); and I've searched all the way along Mutton Street in Chor Bazaar.  I didn't find a good supply of writing tables in Chor Bazaar and what was available, was generally pretty crusty.

The antiques street at Oshiwara - if you're looking for Mr're in trouble!
As a last ditch attempt (although I was never going to stop trying!), I took myself off to Oshiwara Antiques Market in Jogeshwari yesterday to see if I could do better.  I have been to Oshiwara a few times before (although I have not specifically blogged about it) and have usually found the shop keepers to be grumpy and unresponsive to bartering. But this time I got lucky.  At only the second stall I entered, I found exactly what I was looking for!  Out of a selection of around six desks on offer, I decided upon an Art Deco 5 x 3 ft solid teak partner desk (mirrored on both sides) with drawers and a cupboard. And the vendor offered me such a good price to begin with that I did not need to haggle (well I tried, but I didn't get very far).  

So I am pleased to report that I am now typing from the top of said new desk, it having been delivered absolutely on the dot of 5pm today (as promised by the shopkeeper), and all nicely polished up for me.  I would therefore like to highly recommend Abdul Kadir Khan (further details at the bottom).  At today's rather good exchange rate (i.e. in favour of the UK), my desk came in at £165/$260 (16,000 Rs).  Most quotes I have received before have been at the 25,000 Rs mark upwards.  Woohoo!

All I need to do now, is to find some nice Art Deco accessories to go on my lovely new piece of furniture...perhaps one of those 1930s model aeroplanes and a sophisticated chrome lamp? And surely, I need one of those padded leather antique swivel chairs and a globe drinks cabinet? (shhh, don't tell Mr Jules!).

Some pictures from my outing for all you antique lovers:

I was quite tempted by this writing table to begin with as it has beautiful turned legs in rosewood.  But I knew it might be deemed a bit too 'feminine' by Mr Jules.  After all, I might let him use the desk some day.
(Taj Furniture, Shop No 10, Opposite Oshiwara Petrol Pump)

Lots of miscellaneous bits and bobs to be had at Oshiwara.

The place where I bought my desk (actually in the bottom left hand corner of this picture.  The one pictured here is not a partner desk so is slightly cheaper at 14,000 Rs.  The one to the upper left is smaller and he quoted only 10,000 Rs

All this antiques shopping is exhausting!

Muslim shopkeepers lined up waiting for business

Surely the oldest furniture seller in the land?

Lots of wooden plaques, jali work and friezes 

At the backs of lots of the shops, you will find workers restoring and repairing furniture

You could trawl through this lot for days.  Great treasure hunting to be had!

I saw plenty of housewives antique hunting at Oshiwara
You will always find some slightly bizarre objets outside in the street

He wanted his photo I obliged.

My (sorry, 'our') rather chunky, colonial desk as it looked just after its prompt delivery... this space to see my study all tarted up at a later date!

Desk bought from:

Abdul Kadir Khan
Haji Abdul Sattar & Sons
Ramjanak Singh Compound
SV Road

I have just noticed that Abdul Kadir Khan has not put a shop number on his card or receipt - and as virtually all the dealers are called Khan - you might have a problem finding him.  So try his phone number : 9820201578 (his English isn't very good either!)

Read here for my (almost) complete guide to antique furniture shopping Mumbai.


  1. I had been to the Oshiwara furniture market a few months ago and liked a lot of stuff out there, even bought some old antique wooden brackets made from odd parts of antique wooden tables. I still have not decided on the shop from where I will be buying a glass door cupboard for my ever growing book collection. Will have to get there someday soon to finalise the deal before my wife throws out my books!!! There is a lovely antique shop too at the end of the line of wooden furniture shops where the owner is a Rajasthani miniature paintings artist.

    1. I am still a bit mystified to whether I got a good price or not - by comparison to a local Indian shopper. What do you think? I am also looking for a glass door cupboard for my books and files - that's next on the list! Thanks for the recommendation again. All the best.

    2. When bargaining it is best to know first whether you are getting something genuinely antique or whether it is made to look like an antique piece with old wood, polishing and old style fittings. The price is something that can vary a lot depending on what wood is used, how old it is including what condition it is in. Considering that it is probably a remake of the old style of furniture (unless they can prove it to be genuine with a date to it from it's original owner), it should be something in the range of Rs.8,000 to Rs.11,000 but I guess you have still got a good deal being a foreigner. I like the pull out feature of the writing pad on the right hand side of the table and the green rexine top usually used on such tables back then. Best of luck for your next bid for the glass cupboard!!!

  2. Wah, wah! Bahut acchha! Beautiful desk.

  3. Beautiful furniture, each piece is like a work of art! I love all the hand-carved wood in the pictures...such craftsmanship!

    1. Yes, I love Indian handicrafts and craftsmanship...shoppers paradise here!

  4. Hi, I don't want to be rude and print a commercial website on your blog, but how does one contact you to share something you might find interesting (and apologies if i've missed an email ID on your blog)?


    1. You will find my contact email address on my About page.

  5. Thank you and I do feel a little silly for having missed that :)

  6. You did get ripped off, I bought a beautiful rosewood and teakwood writing table with rosewood and teakwood chair for 10k, including delivery. I was offered a colonial desk like this for 7k, with teakwood top, not rexine. Thanks for your post informing about the market though. Best of luck for future shopping!

    1. Haha Akash - I suspected so - it's impossible not to be as an expat, especially without a good knowledge of prices. Next time I go down there, I am going to haggle harder! Thanks for visiting!

  7. creativity personified. thanx......hope u give us insight into entire india......rajendra,9822120542



Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.