Traditionally a dark red fabric was draped over the top of a desk, in Latin the word for red is ‘burrus’, and from this the French derived the word bureau. The bureau evolved in the late 17th C from portable boxes with sloping lids that were used as a writing surface. Made during the William and Mary period, the bureau had added space and storage from previous desks. By the 18th C the bureau had incorporated a desk with a chest of drawers. The design of antique bureaus allowed for the development of pigeonholes, inkwells, slots and secret drawers.
During the Elizabethan and Jacobean period the literate were still a minority so there were not as many antique bureaus in circulation from this period. Georgian bureaus tend to be larger in size with Edwardian and 19th C ladies writing bureaus being a more delicate, attractive piece.
Antique writing bureaus are characterised by their drop flaps that become a writing surface which are often supported by two extendable arms. The writing surface is often inlaid with leather or felt. The interior offers space to store letters, papers and pens among other belongings and the concealable writing surface allows one to hide documents. There are a number of notable writing bureaus to choose from, some of which are outlined below.
A revolving cylinder part of the desk reveals the writing surface and small-stacked shelves, it can be shut and locked to conceal papers and private correspondence. Unlike a normal antique bureau an antique cylinder bureau has a fixed writing surface as opposed to a drop down flat surface. Arguably the most famous cylinder bureau is the Bureau du Roi- made for the French Royals in the 18th C.
The antique bureau Mazarin is a 17th C desk named after Cardinal Mazarin, there is usually a kneehole element (meant to be used sideways with only one knee under the desk) to this antique bureau, with two to three tiers of drawers under the desk surface. The Bureau Mazarin is multifunctional and can double up as a dressing table as well as a writing desk. It often has a very decorative front and sides.
An antique bookcase bureau is often made from walnut and mahogany; the bookcase is set above the bureau, often with glass panel doors across the bookcase element of the piece.
242 items available.
Lovely George III mahogany bureau of small proportions having figured mahogany fall front complete with working key that opens to reveal writing surface with pigeon holes and 2 small drawers ...
This is a good Georgian antique period mahogany bureau bookcase for restoration please look at images. Please note above drawers is partitioned and not missing drawers
For full condition report please ...
This is a George III antique oak bureau with mahogany crossbanding and an attractive fitted interior with an unusual secret drawer.
All of the items that we advertise for sale have ...
A good walnut bureau in the mid 18th century style. Sat on bold cabriole legs with acanthus carvings to the shoulders and finished on ball and claw feet. The burr ...
Antique satin birch Swedish secretaire chest dating from the mid-1800’s & in excellent condition. The satin birch is a lovely blond colour & has beautiful patterns in the veneers running ...
A superb quality Boulle work Bonheur Du Jour in excellent condition with fretted and engraved pierced brass work mounted on tortoiseshell with an ebonised background. Beautifully finished with gilt mounts ...
This is a stunning bureau in showroom condition. This beautiful rosewood bureau has marquetry inlay on the top, front, both sides and drawers. It has a shaped top with ...
This Edwardian antique inlaid mahogany bureau was made in one of the finest workshops at the time. When you pull open the desk fall, the wonderful brass stays connected to ...
A Georgian Oak Bureau of four graduated front drawers, the top drawer with sections.The Fall Front with key falls onto two side pull outs that are also drawers reveals two ...
Offered for sale is this 'George 1st revival' walnut 3 drawer bureau with single drawer interior, with leather inset on fall and 3 shaped front drawers. It stands on cabriole ...
Offered for sale is this walnut 4 drawer bureau with walnut cross-banded top, shaped 4 drawer interior and 4 shaped front drawers. It sits on bracket feet.
This is a Queen Anne revival burr walnut bureau with cross-banded book match veneer on top, 3 shaped front drawers, inset leather on fall and scroll carved cabriole shape legs ...
This is a wonderful early 20th Century burr walnut bureau bookcase. The top section with two glazed doors above a bottom section with a fully fitted bureau with original leather. ...
This is a very good 19th Century French antique rosewood escritoire bureau, in excellent condition inlaid with brass, mother of pearl and bone, rouge marble top, beautiful and useful piece ...
Very attractive French antique Kingwood Bonheur Du Jour in excellent condition & polished on the back too. The gilt bronze mounts are really nice with classical figures & faces on ...
This is a slim oak Arts and Crafts antique fall front bureau bookcase with stylised strap copper hinges, pigeon hole interior and bookshelves below. Working lock and key.
A handsome small antique Edwardian Arts and Crafts bureau in mahogany with satinwood inlay with good colour and in good condition, it has a shaped gallery top above a fall ...
A Superb quality 18th Century solid Mahogany Bureau Bookcase made from the finest cuban Mahogany and of exceptional colour in untouched original condition. The ornate handles, locks and ogee bracket ...
George III antique mahogany bureau. Figured fall, enclosing a tooled leather writing surface and an arrangement of small drawers and pigeon holes. Cockbeaded, graduated drawers below, fitted with brass swan ...
This 18th Century English antique bureau bookcase is a stunning example of fine quality furniture.
The double domed top section has arched mirror panels in the doors, inside there are several ...
This is a good quality 18th Century English antique mahogany bookcase, really great to see this has been beautifully inlaid. This comes in 2 parts for easy transportation, the top ...
We are pleased to offer this 18th century oak bureau complete with the original stepped interior and well which hides a secret compartment. The fall and drawer fronts are beautifully ...
This is a true quality 'Gillows' example of a late Georgian antique rosewood desk in totally original condition. Crisp carving and a good original patinated deep colour with original castors.
This is an interesting and unusual antique bureau. A French, marble top, kingwood, marquetry desk dating to the turn of the 20th Century. The kingwood displaying good colour and grain. ...
A good quality 18th Century antique mahogany bureau with shell inlay opens to a good interior of pigeon holes and drawers, with a recently replaced green bias on the drop ...
Offered for sale is this 18th Century Queen Anne antique bureau which is made from lovely fruitwood. The front folds down to reveal a black leather inset writing surface, 4 ...
Offered for sale is this Victorian marquetry inlaid walnut Bonheur Du Jour which is smothered in marquetry inlay and brass decoration, this extremely decorative piece would be a real feature ...
This is an early 20th Century figured and burr walnut Queen Anne style bureau bookcase.
The double moulded top above mirror plate doors engraved with a crown and enclosing three adjustable ...
This is an 18th Century Northern European Bombe shaped, pale blue painted Oak Bureau bookcase. The top with shaped cornice with gilded decorative edge above a pair of glazed doors ...
This is an 18th Century English antique walnut bureau bookcase with walnut top cornice over a single glazed door, with working lock and key. The top section contains 2 adjustable ...
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