Furniture - Wooton Desks
William Wooton's original company manufactured the Patent Cabinet Office Secretary from 1874-1884. After that, Wooton retired to become a full-time clergyman. Wooton desks continued to be produced by a series of firms with different names until 1898, but it is those from the original decade that are the most sought after.
Section 1: Wooten Desk - made with many cubbies to hide things like money because there were no banks back then
1876 started off well for the Wooton company– “The King of Desks” featured prominently at the Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia, where it won several awards for design. Agents across the country and overseas were selling the desk to rich and powerful men, including John D. Rockefeller, Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph Pulitzer, and Charles Scribner. U.S. Treasurer from 1875-6, said that his desk was “as much superior to the ordinary desk as a steamboat is to a canal boat”.
1876 City Directory Ad. In March of 1875, the Indianapolis Journal reported that the Wooton Desk Company would be expanding to 150 employees, and would move into larger quarters in a former piano factory at Merrill and New Jersey (where the Eli Lilly offices are now located). Production in this era reached its peak of about 150 desks per month. If that number seems relatively low, it was because desks were essentially made-to-order for each customer.
By the end of 1874, Wooton had received a patent for what would become his most popular design, the Wooton Patent Cabinet Office Secretary. He officially changed the name of the business to the Wooton Desk Company, and moved to a location at 70 East Market Street . The beautiful Renaissance Revival style desks could be ordered in one of four types: Ordinary, Standard, Extra, and Superior grades, at a wide range of prices from $90 – $750
Indianapolis was the perfect location for manufacture of fine furnishings, as it was located in the middle of a heavily forested area of old growth hardwoods; in particular the black walnut, prized for its superior lumber. The city was also was situated on the National Road (now US Highway 40) and on railroad lines heading to Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, allowing for nationwide distribution.
William S. Wooton was born in Ohio in 1835, and perfected his skills in furniture design at George A. Grant and Company of Richmond, Indiana. He established the Wooton Desk Company in 1870, opening an office for his staff of four at 115 East Washington Street in Indianapolis.
Wooton’s Office Secretary, patented in 1874, featured 110 letterboxes and cubbyholes to contain the businessman’s important papers and tools of correspondence — all of which could be reached from a seated position. When the work day was through, the sides of the desk could swing shut, and be locked securely to insure privacy.
Sold for $3,750 in Dec. 2010. Rare 19th C. American Walnut Wooten's Rotary Desk Flat top Victorian Desk made by the self proclaimed King of Desk Makers. It has a tag marked "Wooton's Rotary Desk, patented." Each side of the desk swings out providing organized filing space. Walnut Burl Wood was used on all sides of the desk. Original Victorian Hardware and Red Leather Top. Desk measures 32.5” x 60.” The desk is 31 ” tall. 86" wide when opened. All cubbyhole inserts appear to be original
Sold for $2,250 in March of 2013 Sliding tambour panel covers the assortment of pigeon holes and the leather inset writing surface, with three frieze drawers below, the base with rotary cabinets to each side, holding letter slots, drawers and pull out compartments. Height 42 1/2, width 59, depth 34 1/4 in.
Sold for $1,900 in July 2012 An American Renaissance Walnut and Burled Wooten Desk, inset oilcloth top, three drawers and slide on one side, two drawers on the opposite side, rotary storage cabinet base, one side for files, other with cubbyholes, molded base, height 31 1/2 in., width 59 1/2 in., depth 28 3/4 in
Sold for $1,100 in Dec. 2013 Wooton Rotary Desk circa 1880s, (replaced hardware) walnut, sometimes referred to as "The Lawyers Own,'' composed of a rectangular top surfaced in tooled leather over two pedestals which swing open to reveal file boxes and cubbyholes. Wooten plaque affixed to upper right revolving pedestal. 31 x 59.5 x 32.5 in.
I think this is: 'PATENT NUMBER 338,632, issued to Francis A. Coffin, 23 March 1886, Wells Fargo Indianapolis Rotary Oak Roll Top Desk.
'PATENT NUMBER 338,632, issued to Francis A. Coffin, 23 March 1886, for a cabinet desk provided with "wings hinged to the top on each side, adapted to be opened right and left, and to be closed by means of a flexible curtain coming down over the face of both wings . ." Not a true Wooton desk.
ADVERTISEMENT in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (27 June 1885), p. 312. (Photograph from the Library of Congress
DESK probably made by the Moore Combination Desk Company of Indianapolis, now in the President Benjamin Harrison Memorial Home, Indianapolis. Height of carcase 48 inches; carcase width 42 inches; overall depth 14 inches; door depth 11 inches. Moore's patent indicated that the standing desk feature "will probably be left off in some instances." (Photograph courtesy of the President Benjamin Harrison Memorial Home.)