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Antique Secretary Desk – Federal Desk

Item: Solid Mahogany Inlaid Antique Secretary Desk.

Age & Condition: Circa 1820-30. Very Good Antique Condition. Refinished and Restored.

Size: 39″ wide x 20″ deep x 41.5″ tall.

SKU: b213 Category:


Antique Secretary Desk

This beautiful solid mahogany antique secretary desk was handmade in circa 1820. The Federal desk has a very detailed Emblem featuring the national bird inlaid in the fall front desk surface. Of course, this gorgeous antique secretary desk has history and beauty.

Federal Desk

This Federal desk displays an early symbol of freedom. Indeed, the eagle was chosen as an American symbol only a few decades prior. Of course, the eagle represents strength and longevity. During an early morning battle of the Revolutionary War, a group of eagles circled overhead. Patriots shouted, “they are shrieking for freedom!” Thus they adopted the eagle as the national bird.

Truly a high-soaring bird of majestic looks, the eagle represents a romantic devotion to freedom. It can represent many types of freedom: Freedom in worship, thought and commerce, as well as a freedom of expansion into great territories unknown. Of course, the American identity cannot exist without individual liberty.

Inlaid Desk

On this Federal desk we see the Eagle with its wings outstretched. He boldly displays the striped crest featuring its 13 stripes, representing the unity of the 13 original colonies. The eagle holds a spear in his left talon and a delicate olive branch in the other, symbols of war and peace. The sash behind the eagle represents another important part of the national emblem: this is where the unofficial motto, “E pluribus unum,” (translating to “one out of many”) is often seen. These important symbols on the antique secretary desk show a great passion and patriotism. Indeed there is nothing more patriotic and spirited than the national bird.

One must remember, a painter did not paint this decoration. Instead, a master woodworker delicately and painstakingly inlaid the decoration. The woodworker must cut and carve the pieces out of different species of woods (here, rosewood, satinwood and maple). Then, he must delicately carve an exact mirror image out of the mahogany surface. He fits these tiny puzzle pieces with hide glue inside the antique secretary desk surface to achieve an incredible depth and artistry. Finally, he planes and smooths the surface with a pumice or sanding stone.

Federal Desks

Additionally, the interior of the desk has beautiful Federal style inlay. It has a “patera” decoration inlay on the interior door, and very fine striped inlay on two drawers. Of course, scalloped pigeonholes complete the beautiful desk interior. Obviously, we love to witness this type of early craftsmanship! We remark on the level of craftsmanship especially before the invention of many modern tools. Likewise, hand dovetailing of the case and of the drawers give evidence of this mastery of wood work.

Maryland Desk

The antique desk was purchased from a collector’s estate in Frederick, Maryland. During the early 1800’s, reading and writing were still reserved to the wealthy classes. Thus, only a wealthy merchant or politician could have commissioned this high quality desk.

Our restoration team refinished this desk. Basically, this process allows the beautiful mahogany grain and inlay to be appreciated as we imagine it was in the early 19th century. However, a few signs of age remain. A small chip exists on a drawer and a few mars to the desk surface. Nonetheless, this desk offers a striking, patriotic and handsome piece worthy of any period home or office.

If you would like to preview this desk, please feel free to contact us. We no longer have open hours. However, we can meet with you at our warehouse on most days of the week. Thank you for reading! We hope to meet you soon!