Martha Washington wrote and read countless letters at this diminutive, Louis XVI-style writing desk. The French minister to the United States, Éléanor François Elie, Comte de Moustier (1751-1817), brought it to New York in 1788 for his sister-in-law, the Marquise de Bréhan, to use. George Washington purchased it two years later from Moustier, who had been recalled to France. Apart from its classical good looks, the desk was built for safe-keeping - keys are required to open the upper cabinet and hinged writing flap which, in turn, conceals three compartments. The only two known surviving letters from George to Martha Washington were found in this desk, inadvertently caught behind a drawer.
Purchase, 1939 [W-220]