top of page

An excellent labelled George III brass bound mahogany Naval campaign portable desk with secret drawers by Nicholas Middleton, circa 1805


Beautifully brass-mounted and constructed from thick panels of solid Cuban mahogany, with all secondary timbers also in solid mahogany highlighting what a magnificent quality example of early 19th century Naval campaign furniture this is. The large case opens to reveal a sumptuous Navy blue and gilt tooled leather sloped writing surface alongside compartments for an inkwells, quills and a pounce pot. A stack of finely constructed secret drawers is brilliantly concealed beneath the forward compartments, and is accessed by a labyrinth of removable mahogany slides, a push-chamber and hidden spring-loaded catch. Another long, shallow spring-loaded secret drawer is hidden beneath the pounce pot chamber in the forward compartment and magically pops out when the pounce pot slide is lifted.


Known as a Captain's portable writing desk this multi-use box would have been used by Officers at sea and secured to the wooden deck floor by means of a spring-loaded deck screw operated by a large "key" - this original key is retained with the box.


The box also has a removable lectern stand, stored securely within the inside stationary lid, which can be slotted into two brass holes on the top lid of the box. The lid can then be tilted using the brass pin to create a sloped reading book rest with lecturn book stand.


There is a large side drawer that can only be opened when the interior brass pin is removed; each side having flush inlaid brass Campaign carrying handles.



The case, when closed, measures 21.85 inches (55.5cm) wide x 10.85 inches (27.75cm) deep x 7.5 inches (19cm) high.

The case, when open, measures 21.85 inches (55.5cm) wide x 22 inches (55.8cm) long x 6 inches (15.25cm) high.

Secret lower compartment measures 6.5 inches long x 4.5 inches wide x 2.25 inches deep, and leads to spring-loaded secret door which conceals stacked drawers.

Two stacked secret drawers concealed behind spring-loaded door each measure 4.15 inches wide x 2.25 inches deep x 1.25 inches high.

Pop-out secret drawer beneath pounce-pot and inkwell compartments measures 4.75 inches long x 2 inches wide x 0.5 inches high, and is triggered by a spring-loaded mechanism.

Side stationary drawer, held fast by interior brass pin, measures 16.15 inches long x 9.5 inches wide x 2.25 inches high.


The box comes with the following items:

- Solid mahogany case, brass bound, with brass escutcheon, unengraved brass name plaque, original stamped working lock, gilt-tooled leather writing surface with natural bone escutcheon and interior flap bearing original trade label for Nicholas Middleton

- 2 secret drawers, solid mahogany, superb dovetailed construction, turned natural bone knobs

- 1 secret pop-out drawer, solid mahogany, dovetailed construction

- 1 side stationary drawer, solid mahogany, dovetailed construction, inset with brass campaign handle

- brass interior pin for side stationary drawer

- 1 interior secret compartment lid, solid mahogany

- 1 interior secret compartment spring-loaded door with inset holes for drawer knobs, solid mahogany

- 1 lecturn ledge/book stand with inset brass pins, solid mahogany

- 2 removable dividers for pounce & inkwell compartments, solid mahogany

- 1 quill lid with brass knob, solid mahogany

- 1 nibs lid with brass knob, solid mahogany

- 1 removable interior compartment divider, solid mahogany

- 1 large deck screw key

- 1 interior compartment key

- 1 exterior case key

George III brass bound mahogany Naval campaign portable desk, Nicholas Middleton

  • Additional information

    The internal flap bears the original maker's label for Nicholas Middleton at 162 The Strand in London, with Royal Warrants to His Majesty the King and The Prince of Wales; quite extraordinary that this important original paper trade label has survived.


    Nicholas Middleton is recorded at 162 The Strand, London, 1801-1810.  


    During the Napoleonic Wars, Middleton supplied the Royal Household and Officers of the Royal Navy, including flagships of Admiral Lord Nelson and Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy during the Battle of Copenhagen (1801) and the Battle of Trafalgar (1805).


    Between 1801-1812, Middleton is recorded in the Windsor Royal Archives as supplying the Royal Household with writing boxes and other supplies.



    416 666 6295

bottom of page