Compact Secretary Desk

Modern desks lack the storage found in secretary desks.Modern desks lack the storage found in secretary desks.

Picture Bob Cratchit, in "A Christmas Carol, " doing his clerical duties on Christmas Eve. He was most likely sitting at a secretary desk. In the 18th and 19th centuries, these desks were found in offices, but through the years they have become popular in homes. If you are in search of writing space or extra storage for your home, you may find that a secretary desk provides what you need. Whether you are in search of a period piece or contemporary styling, you can find a secretary desk to suit your tastes.

The Original

Secretary desks date to the early 18th century, when they were used by secretaries and clerks. The typical secretary desk was compact with compartments to store writing supplies. The desks included lower drawers, an upper bookcase for storage and a drop-down writing surface. The original secretary desks were constructed in one piece from available wood found in the area. Today antique secretaries, reproductions and more contemporary styles are found in homes and offices.

Secretary Desks: Then

If you are searching for an authentic 18th-century secretary desk, you can expect to pay top dollar for it. Reproductions are available, though, that have the same look and feel of the original secretaries. These desks typically have a wide base with drawers for storage. A bookcase, usually with glass doors, rests on top. A drop front opens for writing and closes to hide supplies when not in use. The desk area contains slots, drawers and cubbyholes to store papers and supplies. Another version of the secretary desk is the roll-top writing desk, which dates to the 19th century. In this style, the front of the desk does not drop down, but is concealed by a front piece that rolls up to reveal the writing surface.

And Now

Furniture manufacturers offer a wide range of variations on the traditional secretary desk. These desks are available in styles suitable for any decor. Though traditional secretaries are typically seven feet high, modern secretaries are available in a choice of heights. The hutch on top may have glass doors for displaying collectibles or a solid front to conceal the contents. A writing surface folds down and rests on supports that pull out from the desk. The base of modern secretary desks may include the traditional drawers, or the desk may rest on legs giving an open feel to the piece.

Table Style

Though the table-style writing desk is not a true secretary, it is a more contemporary desk that fits into smaller homes to provide a writing surface and a moderate amount of storage. These flat-surface desks may have only a long center drawer or may include drawers or cabinets on one or both sides.

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