Antique Secretaires - Secretary Desks


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Known in the 18thC as a secretary, this piece of furniture appears as a chest of drawers with a full-width, deep, top drawer fitted like a bureau with small drawers, pigeon-holes and cupboards. The drawer pulls half out and its front drops down to form a writing-surface. 

Frequently a single bookcase / display cabinet I above. From about 1790, sometimes a two-door cupboard instead of drawers below, generally with glazed cabinet above. Secretaire drawer also found in tallboys and breakfront and library bookcases. Particularly popular between about 1790 and 1810. Survivals date mostly from 1850 onwards. 

Almost exactly as a chest of drawers or tallboy but slightly taller, allowing for greater depth of single top drawer. Interior fittings as for bureaux though often less ornate. Upper glazed cabinet as for bookcases, set back several inches from front of chest. The drawer itself usually has shaped side linings. 

More a gentleman's than a drawing-room piece and always less popular than bureaux, so relatively less valuable. Prices still in four figures though, five if very high quality with a bookcase above. Small size an advantage. 






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