In March 1797, Washington disposed of the desk he had used throughout his presidency and bought this stately secretary-bookcase from Philadelphia cabinetmaker John Aitken for his Study at Mount Vernon. His choice, purchased for the princely sum of $145, would have fit well in a fashionable English household. The Cabinet-Makers' London Book of Prices (1793) illustrated a similar example along with a library bookcase featuring the identical muntin design in its glazed doors. The bookcase stored a few of the nearly 900 volumes in Washington's library, while the desk's tambour or roll-top lid enclosed small drawers and pigeonholes that held loose papers and desk accessories.
Purchased with funds donated by Alice M. Longfellow, Vice Regent for Massachusetts, 1905 [W-158]