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Q: I have a mahogany portable desk that has the words "Made by Geo. H. Fuller" on it. The front has gold and black lettering that says "San Francisco." It is 22 by 21 inches and is 3 inches deep at the top and 9 inches deep at the bottom. Was this made for use by a traveling salesman? It just doesn't seem like a household desk.

A: Desks like yours are called lap desks or traveling desks. Thomas Jefferson invented a lap desk to use when he traveled between his home in Virginia and the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He wrote the Declaration of Independence on a lap desk that is now in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Geo. H. Fuller Desk Co., which made your lap desk, was in business in San Francisco before 1900. The company made office furniture, including desks, filing cabinets, bookcases, letter presses, and general office fittings. It was still in business in 1907, but may have become part of Rucker-Fuller by 1915. Value of your desk in good shape: $200.


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#1 Escritoirescuffedshoes 2011-02-02 18:22
I think this would be better described as an escritoire. Here's a modern example.
This one seems to be missing its guts.

This is the form generally described as a lap desk:

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