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Home | Articles | Walnut Kidney-Shaped Pedestal Desk

Attributed to Gillows of Lancaster
London, England, circa 1845
H. 31", W. 52", D. 26"
Courtesy of Richard Gardner Antiques

This exceptional 19th-century desk is unique and unusually featured. The top, with its tooled-leather writing surface and broad-bordered walnut and brass gallery, surmounts three frieze drawers, the right of which conceals a swivel mechanism enabling the top to turn and reveal secret compartments in each bowed end. Two panelled doors enclose four drawers on each side and the desk’s reverse is finished in book-matched, figured walnut. The plinth base with recessed, patented brass castors also supports a central bookcase section with adjustable shelves.

Gillows' Estimate Sketch Book of 1840 shows designs and costs for a similar desk supplied to the firm of Furguson & Co., recorded in the 1822 Commercial Directory as operating from 117 Oxford Street, London. Two former apprentices at Gillows, James Furguson and Henry Whiteside, formed a partnership selling furniture from these premises. It is unclear whether the firm operated purely as a retail outlet or also had workshops of their own, but the Gillows archives note numerous invoices for furniture supplied to the firm.

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