A special desk turned new Palestine resident Susan Key into a television celebrity of sorts — as a one-time guest of the popular Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) Antiques Road Show.

Then living in Houston, Key submitted pictures and a profile of the desk to the show in January 2005, and it was accepted for appraisal in June 2005.

“An old school friend knew I was having trouble deciding what to do with the desk,” Key said. “So she told me that Antiques Road Show was coming to Houston.

“I was surprised to find what a big to-do it was to be on the show,” she said. “It was really a lot of fun though.”

The show, which aired on PBS Jan. 30, featured the famous antique appraisers and twin brothers, Lee and Leslie Keno, and host Mark Wahlberg.

“We posed for photos with the Keno brothers after the show — they were as sweet as could be,” Key said. “(Wahlberg) was very laid back — happily entertaining the crowd.”

Perhaps the real star of the show was the desk, which first belonged to Susan Morse, the daughter of Morse code inventor Samuel Morse.

“(Susan Morse) married a Puerto Rican plantation owner, who purchased the desk as a means to secure important documents and other valuables,” Key said. “The desk was procured in England in the mid-1800s and was made in Greece in the 1820s.

“It has so many hidden compartments I can’t remember them all,” Key laughed.

The desk made its way to the United States when Susan Morse was brought back to the country by Samuel Morse’s grandson.

“She had recently experienced the death of her son and was mentally ill,” Key said. “She committed suicide on the trip over.”

Key inherited the desk from her mother five years ago.

“My mom found it for sale in a hotel lobby in California in 1970 and paid $750 for it,” Key said. “It was appraised on the show for $20,000.”

Key said she plans to sell the desk in the near future.

“I am very nervous about having something in my home that should be in a museum,” she said. “I am still investigating ways to sell it.”

Key moved to Palestine in August to be near her daughter and 3-year-old grandson, Gabriel. She has two other grown children; a son in Austin and another daughter in Houston.

An avid reader, Key spends much of her time turning the pages of her latest literary favorite. She also enjoys working in her backyard organic vegetable garden and soon plans to resume another favorite hobby, painting.


Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at mrainwater@palestineherald.com

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