A 19thC Anglo-Colonial Campaign Thuya, Brass Inlaid, & Camphor Wood Lined Writing Slope


Origin: English Colonial
Period: Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1850
Length: 19 inches
Width: 11.5 inches
Height: 8 inches
Slope (fully extended): 15 inches H x 19 inches L

The lid and sides of richly figured thuya, with brass strung borders and decorative corners, on the lid the border encloses a central brass lozenge which remains blank (often they carry an engraved monogram). The left and right sides have flush brass campaign handles, and the corners protective brass mounts. The lid opens to reveal a gilt-tooled mottled green leather writing surface, and fitted trays, for pens, nibs, etc behind.  The original paper-lined underside of the lid concertinas open to enable storage of stationary, dispatches, and whatnot. The slope then opens to another green gilt-tooled leather writing surface, underneath which are two further camphor lined storage compartments, that at the rear with a series of three drawers, for accommodating seals, and wax, and various other necessary writing accoutrements, the plain nearside compartment accessible by first sliding the two brass catches.

The box is in good condition but there are a few minor points of condition to note, the two pull-tabs on the principal slope have worn away (as commonly), there are one or two very small areas of loss to the brass inlay, there is a crack to the base (though this is rarely seen), and the lid does not quite sit flush, as time has, quite naturally, altered the shape of the wood. Though when listed together these faults appear significant, we feel that they are quite usual, and do not adversely affect the charm of the piece, which has a beautiful colour to the wood, and, importantly, the two original keys with which to lock it.

English-colonial writing slopes such as these were essential travelling objects for English officers of the nineteenth century employed by Her Majesty abroad. The flush brass handles are a common feature of 'campaign' furniture, so called because the flush handles enable the easy stowage of the object in a trunk or box when military staff had to quickly pack up and travel on campaigns (protruding handles would invariably be broken off). Clearly the nineteenth century English officer demanded the same high standards in his personal effects at home and abroad, and this beautifully made writing slope is a wonderful testament to that fact. It may have one or two knocks, but when it has actually been through the wars, one cannot begrudge it for it!