A colorful hand painted lap desk that was a useful traveling companion in the age of letters. I love the lily of the valley paintings on the side.

The papier mache desk has been coated with lacquer and embedded with sparkling flecks of mother of pearl, and then was hand painted. The floral paintings are so delicate and colorful. The desk’s edges were painted in gold designs. The desk has old brass pin hinges and a key lock. The interior of the box is also coated in a shiny black lacquer. On one end, are three compartments for ink and pens. The top of the compartment is coated in a purple velvet with gold trim. The fabric shows a rose pattern in the velvet with arabesques in the corners. The box rests on four square stepped feet. The base is coated in a shiny black lacquer.


12 ½” (31.8 cm) wide x 10” (25.4 cm) deep x 4 ¼” (10.8 cm) tall. Weighs 3 lbs 7.9 oz (1590 g)


In general, the decorative paintings and floral designs are in very good shape. Most, if not all, if the inlays are intact. There are damages to the corners and edges of the lid, and a nick to the edge of the base in back. There is crazing to the lacquer in the interior and on the base, as well as small losses to the lacquer on the edges to the base covered by the lid. There is wear, losses, soiling and fading to the purple velvet. There is wear to the gilding throughout. The metal work of the lock was taken out exposing the wood. Parts to the inside compartments are missing.

The age and hand work by skilled artisans of the period elevate this desk to a work of art. It is so sumptuous.

Black, Blue, Gold, Pink, Yellow
France • French

Bear & Raven

Antique French Papier Mache Lacquer Lap Desk with Inlays 18/19th Century


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