Historic Jefferson Lap Desk


This is an exquisite reproduction of the lap desk that Thomas Jefferson designed – and on which he wrote – the Declaration of Independence. Learn the story behind this inventive and personal item below. View Alternate Image to see all it’s handcrafted features.

Dimensions closed 14.375″W x  9.875″D  x  3.375″H
Wood Salvaged 18th Century Mahogany and Inlaid Curly Maple

In May of 1776, a tall, red-haired, 33-year-old lawyer made his way to Philadelphia to join the Continental Congress. Known for his revolutionary thinking and persuasive writing, the young Virginian was chosen to draft the pending independence declaration. His name was Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson decided that he needed a compact, portable writing desk to use in his rented room, as well as in his travels. By good fortune, his lodgings were at the home of the cabinetmaker, Benjamin Randolph. Jefferson sketched what he wanted and his host agreed to construct the unusual device. His design employed a novel combination of hinged surfaced that in one configuration held a book for reading and in another unfolded into a large and strong writing surface. Inside was a locking drawer for papers, pens and an inkwell.

Throughout June of 1776, Thomas Jefferson labored at this desk storing drafts of the document in the drawer and rewriting it with advice from Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, among others. The famous words proclaimed on July 4th of that year gave birth to our nation and catapulted Jefferson to fame. And his little desk accompanied him as president and after, supported his prodigious writings for the ensuing 50 years. It now resides at the Smithsonian Institute.

This outstanding reproduction by our 21st century cabinetmaker, Marshall Petty, is faithful to the original. It is handcrafted from solid 18th Century mahogany salvaged from a cabinet that was built during the same period. It also features inlaid curly maple and cast brass hardware. The only liberty taken was re-sizing the drawer compartments to fit today’s paper – a change which we believe the pragmatic Thomas Jefferson would have approved. Though this is a museum quality reproduction, it is built to be used. Each one is sized and numbered by the craftsman and comes with a certificate of authenticity for insurance and appreciation value.

Our custom furniture is handcrafted for you. Normal delivery is 12-16 weeks. When you place your order, a 50% deposit will be charged to your credit card and the balance upon delivery. We will personally contact you with details when you place your order.

Shipping charges are not included with our furniture deliveries. Please read our Shipping and Delivery Policies.

Weight 1 lbs
Dimensions 12 x 12 x 12 in