Wooton secretaire desk – £6000 at Mander.

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A common sight in sales in the US, they are less frequently seen in the UK.

William S Wooton was an Indianapolis entrepreneur (and later Protestant preacher) who obtained a series of patents for office furniture design in the 1870s. He employed mass production methods, while creating the product in four different grades, three different sizes and a number of different styles.

The first Wooton desks, like those shown to great acclaim at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, were made in the popular Renaissance revival style but later examples embraced the Aesthetic movement.

Advertised as ‘The King of Desks’, they were expensive (priced between $90-750 each) but sold well at a time when the filing cabinet was becoming the essential office accessory.

Production of Wooton desks continued until c.1884 and thereafter the model was produced by a series of firms in the Midwest. However, it is those from the original decade that are the most sought after.

This example, 3ft 3in wide x 2ft 6in deep x 5ft 8in high (98cm x 75cm x 1.73m) in walnut with a maple interior is fully inscribed Manufactured by The Wooton Desk Co, Indianapolis, Ind, Pat Oct 1874.

Estimated at £2000-3000 at the sale on August 19-20, it took £6000 via