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14363

Wooton Desk

A rare find today. William S. Wooton obtained patents for his design and established a company in 1870. Production continued until about 1884. The Wooton desk is their better-known secretary desk.

The Wooton desk was introduced at the end of the 19th century, at a time when office work was changing in a drastic fashion with an increase in paperwork that led to the introduction of filing cabinets, among other things. The white-collar worker invaded the office in huge numbers. The new reservoir-based fountain pen and the typewriter were used to produce greater quantities of office documents than ever before. In this context desks which required users to fold and title each letter or document and place it in a pigeon hole, or small nook, were simply not efficient. It was faster to place an unfolded piece of paper in a folder and place the folder in a file cabinet or file drawer.

Wooton desks in good condition are sometimes sold in auctions for the same price as a top-of-the-line luxury automobile.

As in a "secrétaire à abattant" or in a fall front desk, the main working surface or desktop is hinged and lifted completely from the horizontal to the vertical in order to lock up the desk, forcing the user to gather up and store all papers and implements beforehand. Unlike the secrétaire à abattant however, the Wooton desktop hides only a few of the small drawers and nooks. The real lockup is done by closing two massive hinged panels which are themselves as deep as the desk and are like it filled with small drawers and nooks of all sizes

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