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Lap Desk

Lap Desk. Circa 1840–65. Wood, mahogany veneer; metal, brass, cloth, other materials. [Vernacular style] Acc. No.

Lap deskDescription: Rectangular box with rounded brass corner reinforcements opens to form a sloped writing surface. Sides of box each have inset brass handle. Exterior surfaces are all veneered. When opened, there are compartments along the upper edge for inkwell and sander jars, two pen rests, and a corner rectangular compartment with an ivory-knobbed pull. The lower writing surface lifts to reveal a large open storage compartment and three small drawers that slide out from the back wall. Another drawer is fitted along one side.

Discussion: Such traveling desks were a sign of upper middle-class status, or, in the military, of officer's rank. In this case, an envelope was found in one drawer addressed to "Major Edmund C. Weeks / Tallahassee / Florida." The person in question was an officer in the Second Florida (Union) Cavalry Regiment during the latter part of the Civil War, and a resident of Tallahassee thereafter until his death in 1907. Although no conclusive proof exists that Major Weeks used the desk during the Civil War, the artifact appears to predate the war and therefore could have been used by this colorful individual during his period of military service. The donor of the artifact bought the house in which Major Weeks lived for many years and found the desk in the attic in 1976. Currently on exhibit in the Civil War area of the Main Gallery.


Dye, R. Thomas. "Defeated in War and Peace: The Political and Military Career of Major Edmund
C. Weeks." Sunland Tribune: Journal of the Tampa Historical Society, Vol. 22 (1996) 45–54.
Shofner, Jerrell. Nor Is It Over Yet: Florida in the Era of Reconstruction. Gainesville:
University Presses of Florida, 1974.
Whalley, Joyce I. Writing Implements and Accessories. Detroit: Gale Research, 1975. (See esp.
pp. 102–03)