The Georgian Drop Front Bureau

The Georgian bureau represents a functional yet very elegant piece of Georgian furniture. Like most Georgian furniture, embellishment was kept to a minimum but ornament was achieved by use of imported hardwood. The Georgian bureau generally resembles a chest consisting of a drop front writing leaf, concealing a fitted interior over the classic Georgian three graduated drawers all supported on shaped bracket feet.

The bureau served a number of functions Р storage, providing a surface on which to write, and security. The interior of the bureau from the Georgian period frequently contained at least one or two secret drawers. Generally, the secret drawers were hidden within the central cupboard of the interior and were accessed by releasing a catch in the interior of the cupboard to enable its removal. The secret compartments could then be opened from the rear of the cupboard.   Image

Woods of choice were walnut (for earlier pieces) oak and mahogany. The latter were often constructed around a rough frame of native timber, and then veneered with the much more expensive imported mahogany. The veneer of such furniture is very characteristic, being hand-cut and very thick by modern standards.

Today, good mahogany veneered Georgian bureaus are hard to find. Many are quite badly distressed, with lifting or missing veneer, and badly worn interiors. However, good examples can be still be found. Below is a George III mahogany veneered bureau with swan neck brass handles containing a lovely interior consisting of six alcoves over six oak lined drawers arranged around a central removable central oak lined cupboard within which are concealed four secrete drawers. The writing interior sits above three graduated drawers on ogee bracket feet. Image

This George III bureau will be for sale at the Carlton Fine Art & Antiques Centre in Salts Mills Saltaire from the 2 September 2013.

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