In a former article the popularity and advantages of the pedestal writing-table were referred to. The bureau is, however, perhaps an even greater favourite for a variety of reasons, for, although equally commodious, it does not take up nearly so much room.
Also, it is a remarkably picturesque piece of furniture, and last, but by no means least, it is far less expensive than a pedestal-table. Quite a nicely made little bureau, 2 feet in width and of inlaid mahogany, can be bought for £4 or £5.
One very distinct inconvenience of the bureau has now been overcome, and that was the let-down flap with pull-out supports. The flap was very liable to be broken owing to the user forgetting to draw out the supports, in addition to which it was a tiresome process for anyone in a hurry. The new automatic hinges are a great improvement, as they cause the supports to move out when the flap is opened.
Bureaus are, of course, made in quite a variety of styles. There is the usual model with three roomy drawers underneath; or, to go to the other extreme, there is one with only one drawer, and below that a tray. Then the bureau with a bookcase or china cupboard above it is very delightful, especially if it is an old one or a really good copy.
A quaint and inexpensive design in the modern style has shelves for books below,
A bureau is inexpensive and very convenient. As the flap is lowered the supports under it come into position automatically, thus lessening the risk of breaking the flap Photo, Harrods and above the pigeonholes a little china cupboard with leaded glass doors. This can be had for £4.
The Queen Anne is a very picturesque and greatly appreciated period, and the bureaus made on these lines are really charming. They have two or three shallower drawers than the ordinary bureau, and are raised on cabriole legs. The walnut wood of which they are built is very pleasing, as are the quaint drop handles fitted to the drawers. A good reproduction can be bought for £7 or £8.
The account-book is prone to be a very unsightly object-so much so, that it is not surprising that even its exterior makes people shun the task of setting its contents in balancing order.
An American cloth covered account-book can, however, be made quite attractive with the aid of a little glazed linen, such as is used for window blinds, decorated with a wreath or other design cut from chintz.
Under this, letters, to form the word "Accounts," roughly cut from chintz, should be pasted. The capital A should measure about one and a quarter inches in height, and the smaller letters about three-eighths of an inch. It looks well to have the letters cut from different parts of the design, so that some of them have touches of pink, some of red, mauve, or of green.
A chintz with a very small design should be selected, while dark green, perhaps, is the colour most suitable for the glazed linen which forms the cover.
Buy an American cloth covered account-book for about 4d.., cover the book with a piece of light brown paper, allowing a turnover at each end, 1 3/4 inches deep, to form a pocket. Then cut a piece of linen to cover this with a turning of 1/2 inch all round. Paste this on the brown paper, and cut a snip in the turning on a level with the pocket. Fold up the pocket, crease it, lap the turning over it, and paste it down. The cover now will be complete, except for the chintz decorations, which must be pasted on the outside by means of a good photo-mountant.
Blotting-books can be made in a similar fashion, only in this case the backs must be stiffened with two pieces of card instead of brown paper. The larger surface of the cover, moreover, allows for more variety in the way of decoration, and anyone with the artistic sense will find satisfaction in planning novel arrangements.
Jacobean designs are very good, and the bird motif which is seen in so many of the chintzes can be used with great effect. For blotters, a paler green or a tussore or rose-coloured glazed lining can be employed, since a blotter is not subject to such hard wear as an account-book. As the blind material can be bought in various widths from about is. a yard, the cost of manufacture is very small.
Then an inexpensive blotting-pad at some-
A Queen Anne bureau in walnut with cabriole legs is quaint and charming. The quaint drop handles to the drawers are in keeping with this design thing under a shilling can be converted into a thing of beauty with very little trouble. Slip a knife under the paper pasted at the back, and take off the little stiffened linen corners. Then get a mat of the blue Chinese embroidery that is sold quite inexpensively at the shops. Cut pieces from this to fit the triangular corners, leaving a turning at the longest side. Paste the embroidery on with a mixture of Higgins' photo-mountant and seccotine. Then put the corners back in place over the blotting-paper and paste them in position, using the same mixture for this purpose. It may be necessary, if the paper as been torn, to cover the whole back with a fresh piece, or with a piece of glazed lining. A little note-block covered to match would also be most pleasing. A case like a book-cover should be made, and covered with the embroidery. The hinge may be of furniture galon. The cover should be lined with thin silk," oversewn around the edges, and on the underside this lining should take the form of a pocket into which the scribbling - pad should be slipped.
The fashion in writing - table accessories varies as .in everything, and anything trimmed with Chinese embroidery is fashionable (1911).
In other things, also, there are a number of "revivals." For instance, quill pens, although it must be confessed, fitted with steel nibs, are quite smart. They are found in all sorts of gay colours, of which perhaps Royal blue and red are the most used, though the correct thing is to choose a colour to harmonise with your room. These quills cost under a shilling each, and are. very effective. They are generally thrust into a little glass receptacle filled with shot or coloured glass balls in order to keep them clean. Sometimes a silver vase or some favourite ornament such as an old lustre mug is filled with shot instead; in fact, this is an idea that anyone can put into practice successfully at once. Sealing-wax is another "revival," and a silver sealing-wax holder is among most people's writing-table paraphernalia. Their price is between 3s. and 4s., and a nickel lamp to use with them costs 4s. 6d.
Then, of course, a seal is required, and this gives scope for the most exquisite little trifles produced by the sellers of such things. For instance, one may have a seal of carved topaz with a little elephant on the top; or one of topaz or amethyst, surmounted by a beautifully modelled bulldog or dachshund,
Quill pens with steel nibs are liked by many, and are thrust into a lustre mug, or glass pot filled with shot with a minute gold collar from which a wee pearl is suspended. These are, of course, objets de luxe, but there are many simpler models in silver or silver-gilt to be had.
A writing-table pincushion is a thing that should never be forgotten, though it very frequently is omitted. Something in silver is nice, especially a little silver shoe; or, failing this, a china slipper has a very good effect. An embroidered linen pincushion is also quite appropriate, if shades that go with the room are chosen for groundwork and embroidery. Even in wastepaper baskets there is an innovation to record, though, strictly speaking, it is not a "basket" at all, but a round box like a larger edition of the old-fashioned muff-box, covered with printed linen or chintz. The latter is the safer choice, as it keeps clean longer. In a small size these are to be had for the moderate sum of 3s. Of course there are more elaborate versions of the same thing covered with brocade and edged with galon, but they are not any prettier, though probably anyone who has a shabby cretonne edition will re-cover it for themselves in this fashion. It would be possible to go on endlessly with this subject of writing - table accessories, but one or two items can be mentioned in conclusion, such as the small globe that some people place near at hand .so that they may know in just what part of the world is the far city to which they may be directing their letter, in these days of families and friends spread all over the earth. Foreign correspondence at once suggests stamps varying in value, and a stamp-box with two or three divisions should be at hand and replenished regularly.
There are also reference books that are somewhat too bulky to be kept in the bureau, but which can be placed on or near the writing-table in a trough-shaped shelf.
The woman who travels about much will require a Bradshaw or A B C Railway Guide. She who is interested in philanthropic work, or who is honorary secretary to some society, will need a directory containing the names of well-known people who are most likely to be interested in her pet charity. There are also the most charmingly bound sets of reference books sold complete in their case, giving information on a variety of subjects likely to be of use to the writing woman. Choice can be made from these according to individual needs, and most people will include a standard English dictionary in their list.