The location and design of the lopers in Carter’s bureau is unusual (fig.1).
The ends of the top drawer dividers of the chests in figures 2 and 3 are checked to allow the front edges of the lopers to extend up to support the top drawers by their runners.
However, the subjacent divider of Carter’s top drawer appears unbroken at its ends and the normal height lopers suggest they would be incapable of supporting the top drawer.
Had the bureau bookcase been in the form of a bookcase- or cabinet-on-chest, then I would surmise the chest’s top drawer was a secretaire drawer with the fold-down drawer front being supported by 90° hinges installed in the sides of the drawer front (fig. 4) – as opposed to the more usual and robust self-supporting arrangement of flap hinges and quadrant stays (fig. 5).
But why would Carter’s furniture be both a bureau and a secretaire? It wouldn’t. In the absence of any concrete evidence though, I have to imagine the top drawer of the bureau is a fitted dressing drawer, where the front of the drawer folds down similar to a secretaire drawer to expose, possibly, a baize-lined brushing slide and compartments or pigeonholes for wig powder, perfumes and lotions etc. If the drawer front is hinged such that, when open, it occupies the space that is the height of the subjacent drawer divider, then the standard height lopers would support the drawer front, allowing for the added pressure whilst brushing and pressing clothes.
The top drawers of gentlemen’s dressing chests often incorporate a brushing slide that retracts to reveal a fitted interior (figs. 6 & 7).
Dressing chests of this format conveniently offer both writing and brushing surfaces for apartment living.