National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Shaker Secretary Desk Shaker Secretary Desk
Rendered by John W. Kelleher (artist), c. 1937
watercolor and graphite on paperboard
overall: 30.6 x 25.4 cm (12 1/16 x 10 in.) Original IAD Object: 77" high
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Shaker Crafts from the Index of American Design
Object 11 of 17

Because efficiency and order were dominant themes in Shaker life, many types of cabinets and chests were built for storage. This cabinet is also a secretary. It was used by trustees of the community who were responsible for all business matters with the outside world and with other Shaker communities. Because the cabinets and drawers are identical on each side, the secretary could be used by two trustees. The fall front, used as a writing surface, provided sufficient space for both to work at the same time. Because storage was important, the piece is equipped with ample drawers and cupboards for efficient organization of papers and documents. An interesting feature of Shaker secretaries is that craftsmen found no advantage in sacrificing drawer space for the sake of recessed kneeholes.

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