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The double function of the secretary desk
The secretary desk is a funny hybrid piece, since it is inspired both by old writing cases, by the writing table and Louis XIII cabinet. Take a look in the historical archives, you will find secretarial furniture that looks like tables, others like cupboards, others like desks, some on legs, some of drawers and some of doors!
In any case, this multifunction furniture would have been born under Louis XV, at 18e century, to meet a double vocation: write the correspondence essential to any literate personality, and store papers or small objects in a hidden, discreet place, generally secured by a key. See more.
The different looks of the secretary desk
There are several types of secretaries, the best known of which is flap secretary. It is most often a real piece of furniture with doors or drawers, close to a small wardrobe, on which a flap deploys halfway up to serve as a writing desk.
The slope secretary, it is generally lighter, lower, on feet and closer to the desk. It has a tilted shape, the flap serving as a writing desk when open, a shutter to close the desk when it is folded down. He is also called a donkey secretary.
As to cylindrical or roller secretary, its shape is close to the sloping secretary, but with a rounded shape and without the flap: the secretary furniture is closed using a sliding curtain on the rounded part, until it disappears in the wood in the open position or to hide the writing plate in the closed position.
Secret drawers of the secretary desk
One of specifics of the secretary desk, it is its quality of furniture with secrets… refined over time. Because if the first flap secretaries were rather simple, some quickly became true masterpieces of cabinetmaking. There are pieces of furniture hiding behind their flap or roller several dozen compartments, drawers and other hiding places, some secrets, some locked, some inaccessible without a map and instructions.
What to hide the intimate correspondence and the banknotes, the key of the chest or the jewels of madam! It is precisely this reputation for secrecy that makes secretary furniture a story furniture, of those that Chinese amateurs love to unearth in the hope of discovering old letters in a hidden drawer…
The secretary furniture, a piece of crafts
Over the currents and times, the secretary desk has seen everything, done everything, known everything. And whatever its style, it remains an elegant piece, often handcrafted, always precious, since the refinement of its roller or flap system rarely lends itself to first prizes. All the more when it shelters secret hiding places, and all the more when it was created by a cabinetmaker.
Secretary furniture has long remained the prerogative of woodworkers, producing delicate furniture, largely carved or chiseled, and even more frequently worked by veneer, in other words in marquetry. Patterns, colors, lacquer or porcelain inlays, secretary furniture is all that. And today ? It is used both in its vintage version with antique furniture and sometimes restored, as in its version designer furniture. In this case, the secretary is generally revisited and reinterpreted, producing real arty pieces that are still just as expensive ... but are still as decorative!