Antique Secrétaire à Cylindre: Very occasionally we’re lucky enough to find little hints to the history of an antique during the process of restoration. Little hidden clues left behind many centuries past shed light on the era from which they original hark from. Watch our latest video below to see what this beautiful French secrétaire à cylindre was hiding in its depths.
This secrétaire à cylindre – cylinder desk – originated in the second half of the 18th century. What is it? A desk with a writing area and upper storage space concealed, when not in use, by a solid cylindrical section, which slides back into the body of the desk when opened.
Two of the most famous examples are the ‘Bureau du Roi’, a unique cylinder desk designed and made for Louis XV. It was likely started in 1760 by its first designer, Jean-Francois Oeben who was the master cabinet maker of the royal arsenal and was finished in 1769 by Jean Henri Riesener after Oeben’ s death.
The second example – also made by Riesener – was made for Marie Antoinette and delivered in 1784.
Bearing this in mind, we were delighted to discover this antique secrétaire à cylindre, dated circa 1890. It is a stunning 19th century French plum pudding mahogany cylinder desk. The cylinder top automatically opens to reveal a fitted interior when the drawer is opened. The drawer also acts as a support for the writing fall.
The dimensions are 1030mm high, 800mm wide and 500mm deep.
Our restorer of 50 years – Lyndon – commented that in terms of its internal structure, it is the finest piece he has ever worked on.
Interestingly, paper mâché was often used to line these cylindrical structures and how delighted we were when we discovered that the French paper clippings used for this date back to Paris, 1890.
This beautiful antique secrétaire à cylindre can be viewed in more detail in our gallery below.