William IV Ship's Campaign Writing Slope with Secret Drawers by J Corfield, Mount Street, London
A William IV period Ship’s campaign writing slope by J Corfield of Mount Street, London.
This superbly crafted and generously proportioned campaign writing slope is constructed from quality mahogany with brass inlay to each face and brass inset handles to each side. The interior slope has a burgundy leather and gilt tooled skiver (probably a later replacement) with a lid to the base section held in place by two quality slide latches. The base section has a plain mahogany interior with criss-crossed elastic held in place with brass pins to allow for letters and papers to be held securely in place.
The top section has three lidded compartments with turned bone knobs above a further hinged lid. Below the lid is a plain mahogany interior although three secret drawers may be found behind the back of the interior by means of a push button release which is located in the top right hand lidded compartment. Behind the back section, there are four further drawers with bone turned knobs.
Once the back section is released, a further set of secret drawers can be located by pushing the base of the upper compartment forwards to release a catch. Once this is done, the base pops up by means of a sprung mechanism to reveal a further plain mahogany interior. By pushing a finger into each corner, wooden face plates of the interior are released and the drawers are revealed. The two furthest to the top of the interior, are plain drawers with bon turned knobs, however, the two located at the back are constructed in order to be used as guinea drawers.
Furthermore, there is an original key located in a purpose built receptacle to the left hand side of the slope which allows for the screw mechanisms on either side to be engaged with a table or alternative piece of furniture. This ingenious feature would allow the slope to be screwed to a table whilst it was aboard ship to avoid it falling from its position in rough seas. It would also have been useful to military campaigners of the period to ensure the slope’s security whilst it was in transit or situated in a tent. The slope is complete with a quality and original Bramah lock & key.
The slope also bears the trade label for a J Corfield. The label states, “From New Bond Street, J Corfield. Nephew & 14 years with the late Mrs Elvey. Pocket Book, Writing Desk & Dressing Case Maker. No 10 Mount Street, Grosvenor Square”.
Corfield’s business and quality of stock had evidently benefited from his background with his aunt. The reference at the top of the paper label, “from New Bond Street”, is a reference to Elvey’s original place of business at 9 New Bond Street and an attempt to assure customers that they will encounter the same quality from his new venture at Mount Street.
Given the dates of Corfield’s business (circa 1829 – 1835) it would seem that the establishment of his business coincided with the death of his aunt and the taking over of Elvey’s business by another of her nephews, George Lawrence. Perhaps Corfield was unwilling to work for his cousin or perhaps he had also attempted to take over Elvey’s business without success.
This piece is a superior quality example of a writing slope and would have been an expensive accoutrement for an officer of the army or the navy. The piece has an excellent build quality and a well considered design to ensure that both papers and valuables were kept safe during campaign. A super piece by a quality period maker.