A standard grade Wooten cabinet secretary
Lot 3680W
A standard grade Wooton cabinet secretary Wooton Desk Co. Indianapolis, Indiana
third quarter 19th century
Sold for US$ 3,750 inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Property of a private Washington state collection
A standard grade Wooton cabinet secretary
Wooton Desk Co. Indianapolis, Indiana
third quarter 19th century
height 66in; width 40in; depth 28 1/2in

Footnotes

  • The Wooton Patent Desk was the invention of William S. Wooton, an Indianapolis, Indiana furniture maker who patented the model in 1874. Combining the Victorians' love of gadgetry with their respect for order and solidity, these ingenious desks became so popular that in only two years, by 1876, orders were coming in from around the world to the Wooton Desk Company. Soon the company established retail outlets in locations from Glasgow to Rio de Janeiro, and owners of Wooton desks included President Ulysses S. Grant, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Charles Scribner and Joseph Pulitzer.

    Designed to occupy minimal space when folded shut, the desk opened to reveal a series of pigeonholes and shelves, centered by a fall-flap writing surface revealing further pigeonholes and drawers. The entire desk was mounted on double castors and could be wheeled from place to place as needed. These innovations were perceived as revolutionary by Wooton's contemporaries, and enabled a busy industrialist to take care of his voluminous correspondence at a single desk, storing it all safely under lock and key when absent – there was even a mail slot where incoming letters could be delivered when the desk was closed.

    The Wooton Company ceased operations in late 1884 or early 1885, signaling the end of the short-lived but spectacular success of "the King of Desks."
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