This superbly crafted multi-purpose, globe-shaped secrétaire is based on an exceptionally rare Regency model known as 'The Pitt's Cabinet Globe Writing Table', named after the popular British statesman, William Pitt (d.1806). The ingenuity of its design testifies to the early 19th century fascination with mechanical science prevalent throughout the western world. Patent no. 3090 for a 'globe table made with two moving parts or quarters which work upon hinges' was acquired from the lesser-known inventor, George Remington, in December 1807 by Morgan & Sanders, a leading London-based firm of cabinet-makers who specialised in 'metamorphic' furniture. The original, a combined terrestrial globe and writing desk, was advertised in Ackermann's monthly Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics; in August 1809 it appeared in an engraving of the firm's Catherine Street showroom, and in February 1810, a full-scale advertisement illustrated the writing table in three different stages with the claim that 'This writing table, which must be acknowledged equally convenient and superb, is likely to become an indispensable appendage to the library of every person of taste in the fashionable world'. The increasingly more sophisticated model was subsequently adapted into a ladies worktable attracting the attention of the royal family; in 1810 Queen Charlotte purchased a globe worktable as a birthday gift for Princess Augusta, now at Buckingham Palace. Other distinguished clients of Morgan & Sanders multi-purpose furniture included Admiral Nelson and Sir Joseph Banks (B. Austen, 'Morgan & Sanders and the Patent Furniture Makers of Catherine Street', Connoisseur, vol. CLXXXVII, No. 753, November 1974, pp. 180-191).
Similar examples were also produced on the continent, especially in Austria. One 'Globe table' attributed to the eminent Viennese furniture maker, Josef Danhauser, was exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1979 (Vienna in the age of Schubert: the Biedermeier Interior 1815-1848, exh. cat., 1979, no. 34). Examination of the present example suggests that this secrétaire is probably Austrian although its external decoration is almost identical to one stamped on the lock plate Morgan & Sanders, formerly in the collection of Sir Harold Wernher, Bt., G.C.V.O., at Luton Hoo (Sotheby's London, 24-25 May 1995, lot 122). Another writing table of this type also stamped Morgan & Sanders sold Sotheby's Amsterdam, 11 April 2006, lot 118. The present example is closely related to an Austrian writing table with very similar internal configuration and parquetry 'brickwork' decoration, sold Sotheby's Amsterdam, 20 May 2008, lot 288.