Bargueno desk

From Academic Kids

The 15th century Vargueno or Bargueno is probably the oldest known desk form which continues to be produced, if we exclude the early medieval Trestle desk. Some would not count the trestle desk because in early times it served as a dining table, a money-lender's counter, and just about anything else in addition to serving as a desk. On the other hand we also have proof that the Bargueno or Vargueno was sometimes used for sewing or as a jewel chest instead of solely for reading and writing and storing the necessary implements for these activities.

The Bargueno is above all a Portable desk which ressembles the top half of a Fall front desk. It is basically a chest with its lid on the side, and an interior equipped with a good quantity of small drawers and pigeon holes.

As a general rule the interior of a Bargueno is much more richly decorated than the exterior. Thus a Bargueno looking very plain from the exterior will have a reasonably rich and well sculpted interior while a Bargueno with impressive exterior decorations will have a truly ornate and extremely rich interior with ivory inlays and velvet decoration. It is one of the best examples of wood craftsmanship in Renaissance Spain.

There was usually a very sturdy iron handle on each side of the Bargueno, to make transport relatively easy for two strong servants. A Bargueno could be set down on any solid table but there were often ready made supports for it: The "Taquillon" was a chest of drawers decorated much like it while the "Pie de puente" was a small trestle table also in the same style and material.

Barguenos first appeared in the 15th and were popular all through the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. After a lull in the 19th century, they became again popular as antiques in the 20th.

The only other major antique combination of a large portable desk and a frame is the more delicate and humble Desk on a frame of the 18th century. It was popular in Colonial America.

See also the list of desk forms and types.


  • Hayward, Helena, ed.. World Furniture: An Illustrated History. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1965. As Vargueno: pp. 63, 64, 103, 160, ill. no. 197-198, 202
  • Payne, Christopher, ed.. Sotheby's Concise Encyclopedia of Furniture. London: Conran Octopus, 1989. As Vargueno: pp. 29, 30, 36, 67 ill. on pp. 29, 36

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