The design of this desk with its alphabetized drawers relates to patterns published by Gillows, such as the 'bureau writing-table' with double-ratcheted top executed for the Earl of Shrewsbury in 1789 and a writing-table of 1794 (see L. Boynton, ed., Gillow Furniture Designs 1760-1800, Hertfordshire, 1995, pl.24). A pattern for a very similar desk with a rising ratchet-support features in the firm's 1798 Estimate Sketch Book (p.1481) preserved in the Westminster City Library. The design of the secretaire drawer appears on a number of stamped Gillows pedestal desks and several documented pieces feature this alphabetized lettering including the Director-design library table supplied by the firm in 1778 to Denton Hall (see C. Gilbert, The Life and Works of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. II, p. 246, pl. 449). A related desk was sold, the Property of a Gentleman, Christie's London, 14 November 1996, lot 17 (£11,500); the catalogue reproduces the Gillow 1798 design. A similar pedestal desk was supplied by the firm to Sir Walter Scott for his house on Castle Street in Edinburgh. It appears in a drawing dated 1832 of Scott's study at Abbotsford where it remains (see C. Wainwright,The Romantic Interior, 1989, p.195, pl.162). A further related desk from the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art was sold in these Rooms, 18 October 2001, lot 305.
Robert Gillow II, younger brother of Richard Gillow, opened a London shop in 1769 at 176 Oxford Street, initially for the retail of Lancaster-made Gillows furniture, although in later years, Gillows furniture was made in both London and Lancaster. He entered into a partnership with his cousin, Thomas Gillow and William Taylor (d. 1775). The firm is recorded in London Trade Directories from 1769-1777 as 'Gillows & Taylor'. A 'Trou-Madame' games-table at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal bears their label. The hand inscribed label affixed to this desk is quite rare and relates to another similarly inscribed on a Gillows chest of 1772 which reads 'From Messrs Gillows & Taylor At 176 Oxford Street London'. The chest was sold the Trustees of the Knole Second Trust Fund, Christie's, London, 9 June 2005, lot 279. With the firm's proximity to the port of Liverpool and the trading links to the West Indies, the firm was actively (and very profitably) engaged in the importation of not only top quality mahogany, satinwood and other timbers, but also in the sale of British goods to Jamaica and the importation of other West Indian produce for sale in Britain. Milford Haven is the largest port in Wales, and as such, strengthens the attribution of this desk to the firm.