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European Secretaries

The secretary desk is known by a number of names: secretaire, bureau, and escritoire. These bookcase-style chests with flip-forward surfaces adapted for writing are perennially popular pieces for furniture collectors.

Low-slung antique European secretaries, like Georgian-style English writing bureaus, are reminiscent of old-school roll-top and captain's desks. They are often used today to lend a traditional or maritime feel to residential and commercial spaces.

High-standing variants like the Swedish hutch secretary and heavily-paneled Spanish-style secretary are ideal choices for those seeking pieces for all-in-one home offices or dedicated reading nooks. Glass-front and solid-door bookcase-style French secretaries frequently find new roles as modern-day entertainment centers or liquor cabinets.

Mid-20th century Danish display secretaries lend a retro Scandinavian touch as stand-in dressers, while secretaries by contemporary Italian designers such as Aldo Tura and Paolo Buffa have an Art Deco-meets-Post World War II modern feel.

From timeless antique classics that never go out of style to mid-century takes on traditional pieces, European secretaries never fail to make a lasting impression.


Quick Facts

  • In 1986, an ornately-embellished Louis XVI secretary with gilded bronze mounts and porcelain plaques signed by Parisian designer Martin Carlin sold at Sotheby's for $2.09 million
  • In July 2014, a Regency/William IV English mahogany secretary dating to 1820 sold at Skinner for a rather modest $2,952
  • An 18th-century Italian walnut secretary owned and used by legendary African-American singer Nat King Cole sold at Matheson's Auctions in 2012 for $14,000

Recommended Items at Auction

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ELEGANT SECRETAIRE A ABATTANT D'EPOQUE NAPOLEON III
Nov 02, 2:30 PM CET
ELEGANT SECRETAIRE A ABATTANT D'EPOQUE NAPOLEON III
by Accademia Fine Art
Est: €150- €300
€2504 Bids
FRENCH EMPIRE MAHOGANY SECRETAIRE
Oct 28, 9:00 AM PDT
FRENCH EMPIRE MAHOGANY SECRETAIRE
by Abell Auction
Est: $300- $500
$2251 Bid
Sheraton cherry two-part secretary, 19th c.
Oct 29, 9:00 AM EDT
Sheraton cherry two-part secretary, 19th c.
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
Tabernacle secretary, Württemberg, around 1750/60, oak
Oct 30, 10:00 AM CEST
Tabernacle secretary, Württemberg, around 1750/60, oak
by Henry's Auktionshaus AG
Est: €1,800- €3,600
€1,8000 Bids
Slanted flap secretary, Southern Germany, around 1750
Oct 30, 10:00 AM CEST
Slanted flap secretary, Southern Germany, around 1750
by Henry's Auktionshaus AG
Est: €450- €750
€4500 Bids
Decorative lyra secretary in E
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Decorative lyra secretary in E
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1,5000 Bids
English slanted-flap secretary
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
English slanted-flap secretary
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€3900 Bids
Louis-Phillipe standing secret
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Louis-Phillipe standing secret
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1500 Bids
Travel secretaire, England, early
Nov 05, 10:00 AM CET
Travel secretaire, England, early
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1800 Bids
Empire secretary around 1800,
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Empire secretary around 1800,
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€3000 Bids
Butler - Empire Style Secretary
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
Butler - Empire Style Secretary
by Regency Auction House
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Rokoko-Damensekretär.
Oct 30, 9:00 AM CEST
Rokoko-Damensekretär.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€8000 Bids
Zierlicher Damen-Reisesekretär aus dem sächsischen Königshaus.
Oct 30, 9:00 AM CEST
Zierlicher Damen-Reisesekretär aus dem sächsischen Königshaus.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€8000 Bids
Zierlicher Louis-Quinze-Damensekretär.
Oct 30, 9:00 AM CEST
Zierlicher Louis-Quinze-Damensekretär.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€4600 Bids

Sellers Who Sell European Secretaries


Auction Partners

Auction Partners

Auktionshaus Plückbaum

Auktionshaus Plückbaum

Historia Auktionshaus

Historia Auktionshaus

Das Kunst- und Auktionshaus Kastern GmbH & Co KG

Das Kunst- und Auktionshaus Kastern GmbH & Co KG