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


A Superb Regency Writing Box/ Lap Desk in Brazilian Rosewood circa 1815
Writing box veneered in very thick strongly figured Brazilian rosewood. Banded and inlaid in brass. Brass set-in handles on the side. It opens down to reveal a writing surface and space for writing implements. Under the last space there are also secret drawers which are revealed by a spring mechanism.   There is also a side drawer. 
English circa 1815
The box is 19.75 inches long 10.25 wide and 6.75 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 brass decoration. 

Here the box is propped half open (see mechanism below) and is used with the book rest which is kept in the upper part of the box when not in use.

 The surrounding as well as the decorative brass is of a substantial gauge compared to later Victorian boxes and it performs a dual function of protecting and enhancing the box. 
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.
 Detail showing the escutcheon which continues the fleur des lys motif of the corners and the top panel. 

There is a working lock and key.  Here the working lock is in the locked position. When opened the surface of the lock is flat.

 The box has side handles in the military style. The handles fold flush with the surface of the box when not in use. 
 Corner showing the fleur des lys and dot design. This design which is characteristic of the Regency period combines stylised hint of flora with simple lines and dots. 

It is elegant without being over fussy and allows the beauty of the wood to express itself. 

 Open view showing the writing surface. This is covered in thin velvet. The facings are all rosewood.
On the left the brass support of the box (when half open for use with reading stand) is seen in the propped position. This is lifted up to prop up the box (see below).
 The corrugated brass line is the top part of the book stand position prop mechanism. Different angles of opening can be achieved by using different grooves. 

All the facings are in rosewood.

 The inside of the box under the lower flap. Writing paper was kept here. 

It is made of unpolished mahogany. Criss crossed ribbon for supporting notes. 

The reading stand is stored here when not in use. It is visible under the flap.

This is the area under the top flap. 

Under the pen and inkwell tray there is a secret compartment with three small drawers. 

Access to these is obtained by releasing the spring loaded panel which hides them. This is done by removing the inkwell and pressing the base of the wood as shown. 
The catch which holds and releases the panel can be seen to the right of the drawer. 

The drawers are mahogany faced with rosewood with small turned handles.

 There is a large side drawer under the top part of the box. This is released by pulling up a brass rod which can be seen in position in the previous photograph. 

Here you can see the rod pulled up.

 Detail showing the side of the drawer when pulled out. 

Note the fine dovetailing construction and the thickness of the saw cut rosewood veneer. 

The writing box is in very good condition. 

It still contains its original inkwells which can be seen on left.

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.

  1999 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly