A Secretary all at Sea

Three key features point to this two-piece campaign chest as having been made for maritime use; the most obvious being its shallow 14-1/2″ depth.


George IV brass-bound teak secretaire chest, circa 1820. (Richard Gardner)

The second indication is the chest’s fixed bracket feet – as opposed to terrestrial campaign chests which usually have removable turned feet.

The final clue is the castors beneath the chest. While civilian and expeditionary maritime furniture normally sat firm on its feet, Naval case furniture often rode on large castors* to enable it to be easily removed by one person when battle stations were declared.

*A desk fitted with large castors, used by Admiral Earl Howe aboard the flagship Queen Charlotte, can be seen at The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment Museum at Clandon Park, Surrey.

See Additional Examples of Maritime Case Furniture for a very similar chest.

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Maritime Furniture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Secretary all at Sea

  1. hughjengine says:

    Very stylish – thanks Jack.


  2. Eric R says:

    Thank you.


  3. Brian Smith says:

    Thank you for continuing to post on this topic. I’ve been interested in campaign furniture for years, but have yet to see a piece ‘in the wild’. Have you ever seen a piece with ‘secret’ compartments, as are sometimes found on the more non-portable styles of chest or secretary prevalent from the 1700’s to the early 1800’s?


  4. Simon Clarke says:

    An interesting chest and interesting having 2 secret drawers. From the photos in would appear that this is an Anglo-Indian example which don’t often have these secret drawers. I must get around to blogging on how to tell if a campaign chest is British or Anglo-Indian. Once you are aware of the differing construction techniques it is easy to differentiate; if the timbers used have not already given you a clue.


I welcome your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s