This highly functional pedestal-desk was a popular type of furniture manufactured by Gillows of London and Lancaster. Its writing-drawer features lidded compartments with inlaid alphabet-inscribed medallions, and is designed after a fashion popularised by Thomas Shearer's, The Cabinet Maker's London Book of Prices, of which three editions were published between 1788 and 1803. A pattern for a very similar desk with a rising ratchet-supported top and 'turn down' front features in the firm's 1798 Estimate Sketch Book (no. 1481) preserved in the Westminster City Archives.
A very similar pedestal desk was sold anonymously, in these Rooms, 7 October 1993, lot 113, and a further similar desk, stamped by Gillows of Lancaster was offered anonymously, Christie's Scotland, 12 May 1993, lot 378. A related Gillow desk was sold anonymously, Christie’s New York, 14-15 October 1994, lot 319; and another, retaining the signature of the journeyman Henry Walling, was advertised by M. S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans, in Antiques, January, 2000.