This 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 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 similar pedestal desk, stamped by Gillows of Lancaster was sold anonymously at Christie's, Scotland, 12 May 1993, lot 378; another retaining the signature of the journeyman Henry Walling, was advertised by M. S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans, in Antiques, January, 2000.
This lock stamped "J.BRAMAH" below a crown can be dated between 1798 and 1800. Joseph Bramah was granted a patent for his lock on the 21st August 1784 and set up the Bramah Lock Company at Denmark Street, St Giles, London, quickly moving to premises at 124 Piccadilly, London.
This desk formed part of the collections assembled at St. Nicholas in Yorkshire following the marriage in 1923 of the Hon. Robert James to Lady Serena Lumley, the only child of Aldred and Celia, the 10th Earl and Countess of Scarborough. Their eclectic tastes embraced both purchased and inherited pieces, including some from the Scarborough seats of Lumley Castle, Co. Durham and Sandbeck Park, Yorkshire.