Why People Still Love the Escritoire

Relevant categories: Desks,Cabinets and Chests



Antique Frency Empire Escritoire

Over the centuries, there have arisen writing desks of all kinds of styles, depending on the region of the world where they were made. Some may have resembled the modern desks in use in homes and offices while others were very different. No matter the style in which they were made, the purpose of the desks was to provide a writing surface for their users. A great example is France-made escritoire.

Marquetry inlay escritoire

An escritoire exists in the form of a low desk with a sloping lid that unfolds to form the writing or reading surface. It derived its name from “ecrire”, the French word that means “to write”. This low writing desk first came to the fore at the start of the 18th century. Today, the term is used to refer to a small cabinet or writing box with a drop-front, slant top. The desk also features shelves and drawers for storing books and pens.

Marquetry inlay secretaire

Some online sources describe an escritoire as a secretary desk. The hinged desktop surface usually has a bookcase lying above it. Characteristically, the bookcase is closed using a pair of doors, usually made of glass. On the whole, an escritoire stands as a single unit. It is usually a tall, heavy, and compact furniture piece.

When open, the hinged writing surface is flat. It encloses the secondary working surfaces like nooks, small shelves, and small drawers right in front of the writer. Like all hinged desks, it is necessary to remove all the documents from the working surface before the desk is closed.

In its closed form, an escritoire looks like a hybrid of a bookcase and slant-top desk. Due to its unique design, the escritoire has been replicated over the centuries by craftsmen from all over the world. Compared to other desks for home use, this is the tallest, largest, and heaviest. The only home furniture that beats it in those aspects includes modular desks and wall units.

Some of the antique escritoires available today date back to the Chippendale period. Like other furniture from that period, the writing desk was designed in Chippendale style. Equipped with secrets compartments, this desk was great for writing and storing items such as books and pens. Like other furniture of the era, these pieces were made using solid mahogany. While some went unpainted, the rest featured paint of different colors.

Where to Buy an Escritoire

Antique escritoire

Characteristically, escritoires are available in any of the online galleries. You can buy a piece and have it shipped directly to you. Also, these writing desks can be found in any of the online retail sites such as eBay.com. One thing you should know is that the item you receive after making an order could be very different from the one you viewed online. But that doesn’t mean that you have a reason not to trust these online shops.


On one of the sites, you will find an oak French escritoire dating back to the late 19th century. Since it is an antique, this piece of furniture has a glowing, aged patina complete with a wax-polished finish. Writing desks from this era stood on block feet. The canted corners were decorated using foliate and floral applique. It had a well-figured side panel.

The desk had a set of drawers with the upper drawer being secured with lock and key. The extra dressings were made of ornate brass handles. Once open, the table top offered an expansive working surface at a height great for anyone. The stationary would be kept in a rear chest with a single drawer. Fortunately, this piece of art is still on offer. If you cannot find the exact piece, then you can make do with a replica piece. Good luck with your search!






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