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Antique Boxes in English Society
1760 -1900
Writing Boxes
Writing Boxes


A Superb Early Victorian Writing Box/ Lap Desk in Brazilian Rosewood circa 1840
A double Opening or Triple  Writing box veneered in very thick strongly figured Brazilian rosewood. Inlaid with mother of pearl and white metal. Brass set-in handles on the sides. It opens down to reveal a writing surface and space for writing implements. 

It also has an upright back with a letter pocket and individual pockets marked in gold with the days of the week.

Under the pen tray there are also secret drawers which are revealed by a spring mechanism. 

English circa 1840
The box is 16 inches long 10.25 wide and 6.5 tall (when closed).

This is a truly exceptional example of this kind of box. The figuring of the wood is very striking and the rich deep colour  contrasts effectively with the mother of pearl decoration.

The Brazilian Rosewood  (Dalbergia Nigra) is a thick saw cut veneer and it was a greatly prized wood on account of its strength and figure.

The centre of the top is inlaid with a finely cut and engraved bird.

 Detail of the top showing the fine mother of pearl inlay
 The box has side handles in the military style. The handles fold flush with the surface of the box when not in use. 
The back is kept vertical by a special catch, which can be seen in the detail on the right.
The gold tooling on the back is of very high Quality
Open view showing the writing surface. This is covered in  embossed velvet (replacement). The facings are all rosewood.
 There is a working lock and key.  The escutcheon is also inlaid mother of pearl.

All the facings are in rosewood.

There is a secret compartment with three drawers under the inkwells and pen tray. This is concealed by a sprung panel which is released by pulling up the division next to the right inkwell.


The writing box is in very good condition. 

Under the writing tablet are compartments for storing paper. 


For the historical context of this writing box read the relevant part of Antigone's Online Antique Box Book. If you click here you will go there.

We are preparing a highly illustrated book on Antique Boxes and Tea caddies for publication next year by Schiffer Books USA. This box has been specially photographed for inclusion.

  © 1999 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly