This is a superb example of a rosewood and marquetry lady’s cylinder front desk, dating from the late Victorian period around 1880.

The piece features wonderful marquetry of ribbons, flowers and garlands with fine satinwood inlay

The interior comprises a writing surface that is pulled out over a full width drawer and has a number of pigeon holes and two drawers. The full width drawer has the original brass handles.

With a working lock and the original key, the piece has square, tapered legs which end with brass castors.

It has been very carefully cleaned and repolished in our own workshops and is presented in excellent condition.

Dimensions in cm:

Height: 99cm x Width: 76cm x Depth: 50cm

Dimensions in inches:

Height: 36″ x Width: 30″ x Depth: 20″

Find out more about Rosewood here.

A History of the Cylinder Desk

The cylinder desk was allegedly invented in France in the early 1700s by the then ambassador for the Hapsburg Empire to the French court – Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz and because of this was also known as the ‘bureau Kauntiz’. Whether or not it’s true, the French court took to the new desk design with much enthusiasm and it spread through the court like wild fire.

The cylinder desk was always going to be the preserve of the rich, as the difficulty of producing wooden cylinder sections that would not warp with time, meant that it was a very expensive item.

The most famous version of the desk and possibly one of the most famous desks of all time (along with the Resolute Desk that resides in the Oval Office of the American President) is the ‘Bureau de Roi’. Also known as ‘Louis XV’s roll-top secretary’, this highly ornate specimen was commissioned in 1760 and completed in 1769. Originally designed for Louis XV, it was housed in the private apartments of the King at Versailles and was used by both Louis XV and Louis XVI for their daily work, it was said the the king carried the only key. It was thought that secret diplomatic papers relating to when Louis XVI decided to support the American insurgents in 1777 were kept in it. It was moved to the Louvre after the French Revolution, but is now back in its original home in Versailles.