The Secretaire is the meaning for an enclosed writing desk within a folding front. This would either be within a chest or have an upper cabinet section on a piece of antique furniture. The antique Secretaire was first introduced in the late 18th Century Georgian period by furniture designers like Hepplewhite and Chippendale. They can come in lots of different forms of furniture from the secreaire chest, Abattant, cabinets to larger bookcases. The antique secretaire bookcase was the ideal solution for the 19th Century Victorian gentleman as he was able to do his work with all his resources within reach, having a large bookcase above. The Antique Secretaire Desk was similar to the bureau but more square in shape on a chest of drawers, with a deep pull out top drawer that folded down to reveal stationary compartments and a leather writing surface. The folding Secretaire drawer will have a little brass button to press and this released the hinged drawer to fall open. These pieces were built for the wealthy so constructed using high quality woods like figured Walnut or Mahogany with lovely inlay or brass decoration. If you are interested in buying a secretaire please visit our desks or bookcases categories as we do get some beautiful pieces in stock or see a few examples below.
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Below are previously sold examples and if any look of interest please email us to join our mailing list as we do get similar pieces for sale and this will update you with our latest acquisitions.
Inlaid Georgian Antique Secretaire Chest of Drawers. It has a rectangular top with decorative inlay banding above a deep fine inlaid frieze. The top secretaire drawer has the original brass hinge mechanism, key and working lock. The interior contains a green baize writing surface, several pigeon holes and central cupboard door with key and working lock. The chest has two further deep drawers with intricate brass handles and working locks. The piece as a whole stands on bracket feet and is finished with a shaped apron.
Superb Quality Regency Antique Mahogany Secretaire Chest. This very unusual antique secretaire chest of drawers is of superb quality, made from mahogany and dates from the Regency period, circa 1820. It has a beautifully figured rectangular moulded top above a cross banded frieze with satinwood and boxwood string inlay. The four graduating drawers are cock beaded, have the original brass handles, the lower three are partially oak lined and still retain the original blue lining paper. The top drawer is, unusually, a slim line secretaire drawer with the original brass hinge mechanism to the front. It contains four flamed mahogany fronted small drawers with their original handles, boxwood half beaded edges and yew wood drawer linings. It also contains three compartments and a green baize writing insert. The piece as a whole stands on splayed bracket feet and still retains its original back boards. The quality of timbers used and level of skills apparent in its construction mean this beautiful piece can only have been made by a true craftsman.
Huge Victorian Mahogany Shop Apothecary Secretaire Bookcase. Back in the day pharmacists at the neighbourhood apothecary crammed their lotions and potions in cabinets that took full advantage of every nook and cranny available. The upper section has shaped brackets with open section which was most probably used for serving and a wonderful secretaire drawer with flamed mahogany central panels and beautifully turned handles.
Flamed Mahogany Antique Secretaire Chest in the Biedermeier style. This antique continental secrétaire à abattant (or drop leaf desk) dates from around 1870 is made from beautiful flamed mahogany and is in the style of the Biedermeier period. The interior has a pull out writing surface with original leather writing insert, several small drawers with brass handles and a central cupboard door. The exterior has canted corners with decorative carved corbels with elegant rose and leaf detailing.
Georgian Mahogany Antique Desk with Secretaire Drawer, Dating from around 1770 and providing more work surface than first impressions might make you believe. It has a beautifully figured moulded top with shaped rounded corners above an unusual secretaire drawer. When opened with the key and working lock it reveals three mahogany lined drawers and five pigeon holes. Each pedestal has three graduating oak lined drawers with pierced brass handles. There is a central cupboard door with brass ‘H’ hinges behind which sits a single removable shelf. Just above the knee hole and below the secretaire drawer is a secret shallow drawer, for all those small private possessions! The antique desk sits on shaped bracket feet and still owns its original back boards. At some point in its life it has been fully restored and re-polished so it is in very good condition for its age.
Magnificent Regency Oak Secretaire Cupboard – Press with a paper label on the inside of the door, placed at a similar (or the same) time of its construction. ‘ North Riding of Yorkshire – These are to certify that George … of Hunton, Gentleman served upon the grand jury at the general quarter sessions of peace, Holden at Northallerton in the said riding. The day of .. April in the year of our Lord 1826 given under my hand the said sessions, the day and year aforesaid, (signed) Deputy Clerk of the Piece.’
Late 19th Century Unusual, Continental, Antique Secretaire / Abattant, made from fabulously figured walnut. Enclosed can be found the original green leather writing surface and an arrangement of small mahogany lined drawers with very attractive flamed mahogany fronts. The whole arrangement is framed by strikingly figured walnut. The piece as a whole sits on a plain plinth with castors while the design is clearly a precursor to the Art Deco movement. The frontage has been crafted with mirrored figured walnut panels which have aged to a wonderful golden shade.
Most recently belonging to the late Patrick Oliver, this abattant was passed through his family having been bequeathed to his ancestor William Thompson Oliver, deputy editor, art correspondent and literary editor of the Yorkshire Post during the fifties and sixties. It had been bequeathed to him by an Edward Musgrave, once Director of Leeds City Art Galleries and the first institution outside London to acquire a work of art by Francis Bacon. Edward had apparently acquired this abattant from a German artist (name unknown).
Large Grand, Victorian Mahogany Antique Secretaire Bookcase, Dating from around 1860. The deep secretaire drawer has moulded edges and original turned handles. The drawer opens, the front folding down, to reveal an interior displaying a tooled leather writing insert, six birds eye maple drawer fronts with small turned handles and several pigeon holes. The base has two beautifully figured cupboard doors with arched mouldings and key with working lock, these are flanked by elegantly scrolled carved corbels.
William IV Mahogany Antique Secretaire Bookcase, Dating from around 1835. It has a tapered cornice that sits over two astragal glazed doors which have a brass clash mould and the interior of the display contains three adjustable shelves. The deep secretaire drawer contains seven maple fronted drawers, several pigeon holes and a green baize writing surface. The whole piece is heavily influenced by the Gillows style, especially so with the design of the lobed feet on which it stands.
James,I received the chest this week. It looks fantastic. Thank you for all of your help here. I was a pleasure doing business with you, could not have been an easier process. Cheers, Ricker
- James Warren,
I had a very pleasant experience dealing with James Driscoll's Antiques on-line from Toronto. James was very accommodating in taking more pictures of the chest I was interested in while also answering questions in a short time. Once I decided I wanted the chest, he made it easy to send money and then arrange for delivery. The shipping company he used was amazing and their follow up service even better as we had problems with FEDEX when they delivered it to my home. The packaging was excellent as well.I am so pleased with my Georgian chest of drawers. Thank you James. It was a very pleasant experience and I would highly recommend James and his catalogue of furniture. I keep looking at the site for more...Warmly,James Warren Toronto, Canada
Hello James – just to let you know we are absolutely delighted with the chest of drawers. In fact, we could not be more pleased. Thank you. (In addition, your couriers were bang on time and very polite) many thanks and best regards Jon