Andrew Hill, the Financial Times’s management editor, has been working from home during the coronavirus lockdown. His workstation is an antique walnut secretaire desk that dates from the early 18th or late 17th century.
The desk was inherited from Hill’s father and was made during the realm of William and Mary. It has been in the family for many generations. The desk has around 30 drawers. Each evening after work, Andrew took 10 minutes to open a draw and examine its contents. He has written an article in the Financial Times about his sentimental journey through the desk’s contents.
Many of the items he found were from the 1930s, including a Kodak camera, photographs, family papers and sealing wax. Unsurprisingly, the desk held various old fountain pens, with spare nibs and inks.
There were also wooden rulers and an analogue calculator that converted textile thread counts from inches to centimetres. A Pathfinder map measure was used to plan long walks and car journeys in pre-satnav days. There were items of vintage stationery, gold paperclips and “Koh-I-Norr” pencil leads in a rose-pink packet. Pipes and Ronson lighters puzzled Andrew as he cannot recall any family member who was a pipe smoker.
The desk contains secret drawers, but they only contained a £1 coin. Andrew is thinking about leaving something special in the secret drawers for his descendants.
Lancashire antique dealers sell fine antique desks, but their drawers are empty unless you can discover treasure in a secret compartment.
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