An early form of desk was a bible box with a sloping top sat on top of a table - this was then developed to sit on a stand; as the chest of drawers was also developing in popularity there became a recognition that the two items of furniture could be merged into one - and so, in the early 17th Century, the Bureau was born. A Queen Anne bureau in walnut is a prized collectors item, even today. Mahogany did not reach British shores until about 1740; it was at this point a mahogany bureau fell into popularity - often they were filled with secret hiding places. Bureaus made with a bookcase resting on top of it were also popular.
Writing desks are a later invention - initially a table with a leather inset and drawers to the frieze was a style that proved popular; this table then developed into a twin pedestal desk, some of which were so large they became known as "Partners Desks".
Due to changing tastes and the advent of home computing, the George III bureau has become excellent value for money as they do not accommodate a computer in the same way a flat top desk can, and as such are less desirable.
The French version of a writing table is known "Bureau Plat"; these elegant desks, with leather inset writing surfaces often veneered in Kingwood with ormolu mounts are very desirable, particularly if they are signed.
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