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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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Antique French Louis XIV Boulle Style Secretaire
Dec 03, 11:00 AM EST
Antique French Louis XIV Boulle Style Secretaire
by Northgate Gallery
Est: $100- $25,000
$702 Bids
FRENCH LOUIS PHILIPPE PERIOD SECRETAIRE A ABATTANT
Dec 10, 9:00 AM CST
FRENCH LOUIS PHILIPPE PERIOD SECRETAIRE A ABATTANT
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $300- $500
$2501 Bid
SECRETAIRE IMPIALLACCIATO IN LEGNI VARI
Nov 30, 2:15 PM CET
SECRETAIRE IMPIALLACCIATO IN LEGNI VARI
by Wannenes Art Auctions
Est: €800- €1,000
€8001 Bid
Directoire Mahogany Secretary
Dec 04, 10:00 AM CST
Directoire Mahogany Secretary
by New Orleans Auction Galleries
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$7000 Bids
Klassizistischer Sekretär
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Klassizistischer Sekretär
by Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden
Est: €3,300- €6,600
€3,3000 Bids
Directoire-Sekretär
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Directoire-Sekretär
by Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden
Est: €1,200- €2,400
€1,2000 Bids
A GEORGE III FIGURED MAHOGANY AND BOXWOOD STRUNG SECRETAIRE CABINET IN THE MANNER OF INCE AND MAYHEW
Dec 02, 9:30 AM GMT
A GEORGE III FIGURED MAHOGANY AND BOXWOOD STRUNG SECRETAIRE CABINET IN THE MANNER OF INCE AND MAYHEW
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £800- £1,200
£4000 Bids
Großer klassizistischer Zylindersekretär. Wohl mitteldeutsch. Um 1800.
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Großer klassizistischer Zylindersekretär. Wohl mitteldeutsch. Um 1800.
by Schmidt Kunstauktionen Dresden OHG
Est: €1,700- €2,000
€1,4000 Bids
Rollsekretär. Deutsch. 2nd half 19th cent.
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Rollsekretär. Deutsch. 2nd half 19th cent.
by Schmidt Kunstauktionen Dresden OHG
Est: €380- €420
€3200 Bids
A Directoire brass-mounted mahogany secrétaire à abattant,
Dec 06, 10:00 AM GMT
A Directoire brass-mounted mahogany secrétaire à abattant,
by Sworders
Est: £400- £600
£3200 Bids
An Empire flame mahogany secrétaire à abattant,
Dec 06, 10:00 AM GMT
An Empire flame mahogany secrétaire à abattant,
by Sworders
Est: £400- £600
£3200 Bids
Schrägklappensekretär
Dec 03, 11:00 AM CET
Schrägklappensekretär
by Auktionshaus Sieglin GmbH
Est: €0- €0
€2000 Bids
Zylindersekretär
Dec 02, 10:00 AM CET
Zylindersekretär
by Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1000 Bids
Louis Seize Sekretär, Mitteldeutsch, 18. Jh., Nuss- und Nusswurzelholz
Dec 10, 11:00 AM CET
Louis Seize Sekretär, Mitteldeutsch, 18. Jh., Nuss- und Nusswurzelholz
by Auktionshaus Demessieur
Est: €0- €0
€6000 Bids
Empire Secretary, France around 1800
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Empire Secretary, France around 1800
by Auktionshaus Wersching
Est: €0- €0
€8500 Bids
Dutch Baroque Inlaid Walnut Secretaire
Dec 08, 10:00 AM EST
Dutch Baroque Inlaid Walnut Secretaire
by Nye & Company
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0000 Bids
LOVELY LOUIS XV STYLE PAINTED BOMBE SECRETARY
Dec 10, 9:00 AM CST
LOVELY LOUIS XV STYLE PAINTED BOMBE SECRETARY
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$3000 Bids
Großer Barock-Tabernakelsekretär à trois corps
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Großer Barock-Tabernakelsekretär à trois corps
by Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden
Est: €2,200- €4,400
€2,2000 Bids
Davenport Damen Sekretär oder Schiffssekretär, um 1900, England
Dec 10, 11:00 AM CET
Davenport Damen Sekretär oder Schiffssekretär, um 1900, England
by Auktionshaus Demessieur
Est: €0- €0
€800 Bids
Kleiner Damensekretär, Napoleon III., Frankreich, 19. Jh.
Dec 10, 11:00 AM CET
Kleiner Damensekretär, Napoleon III., Frankreich, 19. Jh.
by Auktionshaus Demessieur
Est: €0- €0
€3000 Bids
An Art Deco Burr Walnut Secretaire by H. & L. Epstein Ltd of London, 117cm x 107cm x 35cm
Dec 04, 10:00 AM SAST
An Art Deco Burr Walnut Secretaire by H. & L. Epstein Ltd of London, 117cm x 107cm x 35cm
by 5th Avenue Auctioneers
Est: R15,000- R25,000
R15,0000 Bids
Louis Seize Aufsatzsekretär
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Louis Seize Aufsatzsekretär
by Auktionshaus Rotherbaum OHG
Est: €0- €0
€1,8000 Bids
Schrägklappensekretär im Stile des Rokoko
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Schrägklappensekretär im Stile des Rokoko
by Auktionshaus Rotherbaum OHG
Est: €0- €0
€5000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell European Secretaries


Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden

Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden

Artcurial

Artcurial

Hampel Fine Art Auctions

Hampel Fine Art Auctions

Auktionshaus Rotherbaum OHG

Auktionshaus Rotherbaum OHG