Stock List Notes

The Dorking Desk Shop stock list concentrates on all the main types of flat top writing desks. This includes Pedestal, Partners and Knee-Hole desks as well as writing tables.



Our stock list is divided into large, medium and small. Large (L) is 65 inches and above, medium (M) is 50 – 65 inches and small (S) is under 50 inches. Sizes are approximate and are in inches. If you need to convert this to metric please multiply by 2.54.



Whilst oak, mahogany and walnut are the more common there can often be a wide variation in the appearance of these woods depending on their age, the cut of the log and the amount of polish, grime and patination that has built up over the years.


Oak can be quarter or radial cut which will ether show the ‘quick silver’ markings or will have a straighter grain. Pollard or burr oak is often difficult to distinguish from burr elm or walnut.


Walnut can be burr or curl in veneer. Solid straight grain is often mistaken for mahogany.


Mahogany can be Spanish or Cuban and some special desks have feathered, rippled or ‘plum pudding’ grain which can greatly enhance their appearance and effect the cost.



The age of desks is always approximate. The reason for this is that after the death of a monarch styles tended to change, but some makers in different parts of the country were slower to adapt to new fashions and, for example, they might continue making Georgian and Regency styles well into the Victorian period. As well as this there have always been times of revival when earlier designs were copied or adjusted. In the 20th Century, apart from the Edwardian period, styles such as Arts and Craft, Art Decko and Art Nouveau fluctuated in popularity and strengths. However, it was perhaps the demands of the war years that dictated the function of a desk being predominantly that of utility. For this reason the 20th Century has been divided into early, mid and late. Early being pre 1930, mid being the 30’s through to the 60’s and the late 20th Century being 1970 onwards.



Space for detail is very limited but at The Dorking Desk Shop we always try to have the better examples in stock. Some will have features such as makers stamps, owners provenance or be a rare or unique example of a particular style. All of these factors can dramatically effect cost but we hope that these items would always prove to be the best value and most widely admired.



This Stock List of flat top desks can be further divided into four main types…


Table – can be leather or solid top with or without drawers and can sometimes be adjustable for height or slope.


Pedestal – is the type of desk that comes in three or more sections. The two pedestals with cupboards or drawers support a top, usually with further drawers, that fits on top.


Knee-Hole – this type of desk is made all in 1 piece and doesn’t separate. The enclosed ‘knee-hole’ space can be open or enclosed with a cupboard door.


Partners – This type describes a desk that originally was used by two people as it has cupboards and/or drawers to both sides. Nowadays they are often used singularly in the centre of a room where the more friendly view of cupboards and drawers at the back welcomes the visitor and gives alternative working and storage possibilities.


Semi Partners – describes a desk that might only be partly fitted to the reverse, maybe just having working cupboards sometimes with dummy drawers over.


Dummy Partners – describes a desk that isn’t a Partners but looks like it has working cupboards and drawers. Sometimes a good quality desk that isn’t wide enough for two people to use but requires a better show side.


THE STAR CODE A star against a desk means:
* The desk has unusual or rare features
** As above but the desk also has the makers stamp and/or detailed provenance.



If a desk has (w.a.r.) it means that the desk is being sold ‘with alterations and repairs’. However, if a desk does not have (w.a.r.) it does not necessarily mean that the desk will be in completely original condition. Most desks will have had some restoration or changes over the years and many will have had at least one of the following; a replaced leather, different locks or keys and sometimes changes to the castors and handles. If a desk requires restoration we will endeavour to restore it to its best working condition whilst retaining the original features and patination.