Antique secretary desks and writing desks have their origin in the 17th century as small traveling desks. After that they started appearing in various sizes and styles. In 1750, British furniture designer Thomas Chippendale designed some remarkable secretary desks that reflected the influence of the Gothic style.
Victorian antique writing desks are very popular and among the most sought-after of antique writing desks especially if signed by the maker. Antique writing desks and antique secretary desks are a popular choice among writers for the convenience they afford and the visual appeal. Roll top desks were popular in the 19th century due to the privacy they afforded and the fact that the top could be locked.
Attributes of antique secretary desks and antique writing desks:
– Drawers, bookshelves and small writing surfaces, a boon for a room with limited floor space;
– Flip down writing surface affords privacy;
– Multi-purpose, space-saving, and fashionable addition to your home;
– Great for a small office, guest bedroom, or as an accent piece in an entranceway or front hall;
– Constructed by craftsmen with high quality material.
Antique french secretaire (Minnie Peters – a life of European design)
Uses of antique secretary and antique writing desks:
– Smaller antique writing desks are good accent pieces;
– Larger antique writing desks with cubbyholes are useful for organizing mail and documents;
– Antique secretary and antique writing desks with compartments and doors function as hutches and buffets;
– Some antique writing desks are small enough for writers who prefer to lounge while writing;
– Casters on the ends of the legs of antique writing desks allow easy moving.
Startling secretary desk
Choose an antique secretary desk or antique writing desk based on the following:
1. Decor of the home: Make sure the finish or stain of the writing desk blends with the other furniture already in the room;
2. Available space: Though antique secretary desks have a small footprint they sometimes have tall upper-half bookcases;
3. The presence of genuine veneers and inlays: Antique secretary desks are characterized by hand-carved ornamentation, mother-of-pearl inlays, veneers, and hand-blown wavy glass doors;
4. Origin: Knowing the provenance of antique secretary desks enhances the value;
5. Preferred style: Many styles of writing desks are available – traditional Jacobean, William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale, Henry II, Louis XV, Louis XVI;
6. Budget: Quality reproduction pieces are available which are usually less expensive than authentic antique secretary desks and antique writing desks.
7. Utility: Antique secretary desks with crisp straight lines are good as children’s study hutches.
8. Use: A large antique secretary desk for an office, a smaller antique secretary desk for writing letters or notes.
9. Value: An antique secretary desk dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century is usually a good investment.
10. Work-surface mechanism: Antique secretary desks offer hidden writing surfaces that flip open or slide out on supports.
11. Stability: It is an important safety consideration because sometimes secretary desks can be top-heavy in which case they can be anchored to the wall.
German Tyrolean, Rococo, writing desk, circa 1750