French Empire Secretaire a Abattant with Cuban Acajou Mahogany: Circa 19th Century
This Secretaire a Abattant is the in French Empire style and is veneered in Cuban acajou mahogany, with bronze dore mounts and a gray Saint Anne marble top. The piece has three lower drawers which are lockable (key included) and the single hidden drawer at the top. The interior has five document and accessory storage drawers. The fall-front (which locks) retains its original tooled leather border (with a Greek-Key pattern) and a later replacement dark green felt. The bronze dore mounts on the drawers are cornucopias which symbolize bounty. The fall-front has a mount with scrolling roses and foliage. There are two mounts with a male and female profile. The male has a baby owl on his helmet which symbolizes wisdom. And hanging from the females hair-band is a peacock which symbolizes the ability to see all.The fall front desk can be considered the cousin of the secretary desk. Both have a main working surface or desktop which does double duty as a cover to seal up papers and other items located in small shelves or small drawers placed one on top of the other in front of the user. Thus, all working papers, documents and other items have to be stored before the desk is closed.Unlike the secretary desk, the fall front desk's desktop panel is in a perfectly vertical position when in its closed position. Often, there are no additional shelves or drawers above the section which is enclosed by the desktop. Thus, the fall front desk is identical in shape to a Bargueño desk which would have been placed on a stand of drawers, or more precisely to the form known as Desk on a chest or as "chest-on chest".The fall front desk is also called a drop front desk or drop-front desk, and sometimes also a drop lid desk. Scrutoire and scriptoire are ancient variations. The "secrétaire à abattant" is a nearly identical form, but usually in a French style such as Louis XV, Empire, Art Deco, etc. In the early 19th century, Shaker communities produced a tall and plain variation which is often known as a "cupboard desk".