Roll top desks originally gained popularity in the 19th century. Industrialization due to several factors including the mass production of furniture and the growth of commercial activities and businesses made the roll top desk a necessity. Roll top desks were originally designed for the emerging merchant class, to be used by clerks and bookkeepers as an all-in-one office work space to organize ledgers and other important papers.
The roll top desk, which could be easily mass-produced, became very popular with nineteenth century businessmen because it reduced the number of pieces of furniture needed to furnish a place of business. Today, while the appeal and appearance of roll top desks remain relatively the same, there have been some minor changes so that they can accommodate modern technology like computers.
Roll top desks are almost always made of wood. Its signature rounded cover or roll-down lid provides added protection to the desk’s contents, while creating privacy. Essentially a standard pedestal desk, the three-sided cabinet that forms the lid typically includes tracks along the side and top edges. Whether it’s a high quality or a discount roll top desk, these tracks are usually made out of plastic or metal so that the tambour or wood lid can slide easily up and down.
The finish is what gives a classic style writing desk like the roll top its unique character. Real wood like walnut, mahogany or teak create sophistication. The warm golden hue of an oak roll top desk lend the room an entirely different vibe than a a black roll top desk.