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An Austrian Parcel-Gilt Mahogany and Satinwood
Metamorphic Globe Secrétaire
Circa 19th century, based on the design by Morgan and Sanders
Size: 108.5 centimetres (42.75 inches) high; 84 centimetres (33 inches) diameter
Estimated price: £25,000-40,000

In the early 19th century a fascination for mechanical science prevailed throughout the western world. This is exemplified on a domestic scale by this ingenious object, a globe on a stand that folds out to reveal a multi-purpose desk or secrétaire. Such a piece was admired both for its functional qualities – as a desk – and its decorative ones – as an elegant globe such as would normally be seen in a library.

It is based on an exceptionally rare early 19th century model by Morgan and Sanders, a firm which specialised in producing metamorphic furniture, especially for ship’s cabins. Known at the time as ‘The Pitt’s Cabinet Globe Writing Table’, after the British statesman, William Pitt (d 1806), this piece was considered an indispensable appendage to the library of every person of taste in the fashionable world. The original design was subsequently adapted into a ladies worktable that attracted 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.

Examination of the present example suggests that this secrétaire is probably Austrian although its external decoration is almost identical to one formerly in the collection of Sir Harold Wernher, Bt, GCVO, at Luton Hoo.

Christie’s Sale of The Ross Hamilton Collection Journeys to the Pimlico Road will take place on February 27, 2013. For more information please visit http://www.christies.com.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 24, 2013.