It is a piece of furniture used in schools, offices and homes for various academic, professional or domestic activities such as reading, writing, drawing or using a computer.
As early as 1440, drawings depict scribes sitting at sloped desks. But those able to read and write comprised only a tiny minority of the population so desks weren’t really popular items of furniture until the 17th century.
Desks often have one or more drawers, compartments or pigeonholes to store items such as office supplies and papers. Unlike tables, usually only one side of a desk is suitable to sit at.
Not all desks have the form of a table. For instance, an armoire is a desk built within a large wardrobe-like cabinet and portable desks maybe placed on a person’s lap.
Most people sit at desks but some people are now using standing desks as they’re believed to be more beneficial to health.
The Resolute Desk in the Oval Office has been used by many presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F Kennedy and Barack Obama.
It was made from the timbers of HMS Resolute, an abandoned British ship discovered by an American vessel and returned to Britain as a token of friendship and goodwill. Queen Victoria commissioned the desk from William Evenden at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham and presented it to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880.
A book calls for pen, ink, and a writing desk; today the rule is that pen, ink, and a writing desk call for a book.
People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.
Rolltop desks were invented in the 19th century and were popular in small and medium sized offices. They had many drawers and compartments for keeping letters and papers.
The desktop surface of a rolltop desk is covered by means of a tambour consisting of linked wooden slats that roll or slide through slots in the raised sides of the desk. The wooden slats of the rolltop's tambour were usually joined together by being attached to a cloth or leather foundation.
An animator's desk has an integral glass topped box with a light in it, quite often, it’s circular but doesn’t have to be. The animation disk is most often made of white plexiglass these days.
When working on the lit animation disc the animator or cartoonist can see through several sheets of paper at once. This makes it possible to draw each frame to fit the others exactly and make their subjects move the way they want them to.
Baudelaire kept a pet bat in a cage on his desk.
Houdini bought Edgar Allen Poe's writing desk.
The typical office desk harbours some 400 times more disease-causing bacteria than the average toilet seat.
The writer Gustave Flaubert kept an Egyptian mummy's foot on his desk.
The German poet Schiller sniffed rotten apples which he kept in a drawer in his desk when he was working.