M988.103.1.1-53 | Wooton desk

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Wooton desk
Wooton Desk Company
1874, 19th century
183 x 109.5 x 78.5 cm
Gift of M. Bruce McNiven
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Desk (3)
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Keys to History

As the pace of business quickened in the late 19th century, so did the need for better equipped and more efficient offices. This Wooton desk is an example of the emphasis on increased efficiency.

An advertisement for a Wooton desk in the May 17, 1884, issue of The Graphic magazine announced: "One hundred and ten compartments, all under one lock and key. A place for everything and everything in its place". This was the catch phrase for "The King of Desks," American businessman William S. Wooton (1835-1907), who manufactured and sold office furniture. Wooton desks were known for their many compartments, which provided a place for the organization and storage of documents and office supplies.

In the 1880s and 1890s typewriters and other new office machines began generating large amounts of paperwork, and the popularity of this desk waned - it could no longer hold everything! The filing cabinet was developed and people went back to using simpler desks.

  • What

    This desk is made from oak, burled walnut, bird's-eye maple and tiger maple and includes doors that open to either side to reveal dozens of slots, shelves and small compartments.

  • Where

    This desk was made by the Wooton Desk Company in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • When

    This Wooton desk was patented on October 6, 1874.

  • Who

    The desk was acquired by Sir George Drummond during the 1870s and inherited first by his son, then by his grandson, both of whom were named Guy.