There are many different types of “writing furniture”, but perhaps the best known is the BUREAU, basically a desk with a hinged flap that folds up when not in use.
Made in quantity from the 18th century, bureaux are generally oak, walnut, pine or mahogany, some lavishly decorated with lacquer or marquerty. They were often combined with bookcases and cabinets to become bureau bookcases or bureau cabinets.
Like ordinary cabinets, these were as much to display the wealth of their owner as for any practical purpose. Many have a strong architectural feel, designed to co-ordinate with the architecture of the rooms in which they stood.
Chinese and Japanese lacquer became popular in the 17th century, and soon English cabinet makers began to produce their own “oriental” antique style lacquer called JAPANNING. Black was the most common colour; red is much rarer.