| Sheila Howell

What Is a Plat Desk?

A French writing table is frequently called a bureau plat. Plat is French for flat. It was adapted from a basic table to be used for writing. A bureau plat, or writing desk, is different from a writing desk: 

  • it has drawers under the writing surface to hold pen, papers, ink etc and not on the sides, often 1 center drawer with 2 larger drawers on either side 
  • the writing surface is frequently leather for ease of writing 
  • it has 4 legs and not a pedestal 
  • may have divisions on the top as blotter and writing surface to hold an inkwell 

Designed by Andre Charles Boulle during the reign of Louis XV, a bureau plat is the predecessor of today's desk. Often intricately carved and embellished with bronze, marquetry, ormolu and stones, a bureau plat was often positioned in the center of the room as a showpiece.

Antique 19th Century Walnut Plat Desk with Leather Inserts

Antique 19th Century Walnut Plat Desk with Leather Inserts 

Elegant in its simplicity, this sturdy old desk from about 1870 would make a wonderful anchor piece for an open wall. In excellent shape for its age, it has smooth turned legs with lovely tooled details that set it apart from strictly utilitarian styles. The two keyholed drawers display classic Old World mortise-and tenon dovetailing. The leather platted top shows some minor wear from long use that gives the piece character, but retains its original shine.

78.5" W x 39" D x 30.25" H. 

European Finds has antique desks available in our online antique warehouse. If you don't see what you are looking for, give us a call, and perhaps we can help you find the perfect piece!  We also provide antique sourcing services if you are looking for a specific piece.

Contact: customerservice@europeanfinds.com 

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