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Antiques go in and out of fashion but antique roll top desks are making a comeback! Antique desks became less popular when computer technology eclipsed more traditional writing methods. As a result, these charming desks became obsolete in the modern age, as the necessity to store stationery and paperwork became less important and large desktop computers needed space.

Antique Desk gracing an elegant hallway

But today, with cumbersome desktop-PCs largely replaced by compact laptops and tablets, antique desks are very much back in vogue, gracing the rooms of many stylish modern homes. For the office they are the perfect place to keep your MacBook, tablets and other electronic devices. While in hallways they make very stylish places to store and display treasured possessions. A versatile piece, it has become a must have item once again. The obvious beauty, quality and functionality of these desks has been rediscovered and appreciated by a new generation.

A British Colonial Teakwood Antique Roll Top Desk


Take for example the antique roll top desk. It has been around since the 1800's. With all the storage space within the desk it became a very popular item, packed with cubbyholes, letter boxes, shelving and drawers all in one desk. The defining feature is the roll down top that covers the desk area and locks the drawers. This cover is made of a series of slats that smoothly roll along a s-frame in a sloping curve from the top of the desk to the desktop.

The roll top was the preferred type of desk in the centers of British colonial administration in India; Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. And although it was produced in larger numbers at the end of the 19th century and of varying levels of quality, this kind of desk is still popular at the antique market.


An intriguing feature that some of these antique roll top desks have are the secret drawers. These were ingeniously constructed, and every cabinetmaker had their own methods of making them. Sometimes a whole section of pigeon holes will come out, either to disclose a drawer at the back or a partition can be opened by a secret spring. The carved pilasters which ornamented the sides of the center pigeon hole often concealed a narrow space for papers, but as this method became too well known new ways of constructing secret spaces had to be found.

The antique roll top desk continues to be a functional yet stylish piece of antique furniture in many homes and businesses. It offers us a bit of the past while being useful in the present.

Click to view our range of antique colonial desks here.

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