Antique Desk A Symbol of Yesterday

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Published: 17th August 2015
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Either an office or a home setting can display a writing desk, as this is a contemporary furniture item. The use of this kind of desk has changed over the years. Although originally it was designed to write letters by hand, technology has greatly decreased that activity. The writing desk first came on the scene in the 17th century, mainly for wealthy people, since it was quite expensive. It quickly became a status symbol for the rich, as most people could not even read or write at that time. Any desk that survived from so long ago is now an antique desk.

From the 17th century up to the 20th century, various styles were available in writing desks, such as Queen Anne, William and Mary, Victorian and Georgian. The very best hand-craftsmanship and ornate carvings were featured in those styles, such as gilding, elaborate patterns, dovetailed joints and legs with an outward and then inward curve that ended in ball-and-claw feet that looked like an animal's paw. Because of the elaborate carving patterns and structure, the writing desk was thought of as more decorative or for status, than something useful. The antique desk of today, which was yesterday's writing desk, had a flat surface and its height was about 30 inches. It typically had bobbin, trumpet-turned or bavriole legs. A support wall across the back had what was called pigeonholes, to use as storage units for writing pens, files and where sensitive documents could be kept. This feature helps to determine if a piece is an antique desk. Some desks had a flip top or a top that rolled down over the pigeonholes and desktop and could be locked in place for privacy. One style of former desks had a hutch on the top or shelving, and the design was meant to meet the needs of the customer of that day. Desks made of cherry, pine and oak were available, but the typical desk was walnut, and mahogany came later.

Once more people learned to read and write, there was a greater demand for a more practical and affordable desk, especially for the middle and lower classes. The demand, along with mass production that started in the 20th century, made it necessary to eliminate most of the ornate carvings and other artistic craftsmanship in favor of rapid production made possible by steam-powered machines. Other materials besides wood then began to be used to make writing desks, such as steel, laminate and even glass. This combination lowered the price of desks and finally the masses found them more affordable.

Even more changes came about once the computer was invented. The writing surface was enlarged to hold a computer monitor. Compartments were now built to hold peripherals for the computer such as printers and scanners. File cabinets replaced the pigeonholes and also the drawers that used to cover the front of the desk, and the hutch was eliminated. An antique desk is always a one piece, heavy unit. Modern desks are often modular and can be disassembled and put back together as needed.

Classic desk designs are not always plentiful, but reproductions are available and at affordable prices. Some people want them for decorative and accent pieces. For those who are more practical and need lower prices, a better alternative may be found in a modern desk. A wide variety exists in desks for computers, crafts, and other specific uses. Nearly everyone can find the perfect desk, no matter what his or her taste or need. There will always be someone who wants an antique desk, however, if only to enjoy a beautiful treasure of yesterday. Guidance from a antique writing desk, Executive Desk Reviews and The Desk Guide

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