Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

From the Collections

Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

From the Collections

Article excerpt

In the mid-1930s Virginia and Alexander Weddell acquired two seventeenthcentury Spanish barguenos (one of which is pictured right), or traveling desks, at auction in Buenos Aires. Now housed at Virginia House in Richmond, both are made of walnut and decorated with bone, gold leaf, velvet, and pierced iron. When closed for travel, they look like plain rectangular boxes. When opened, however, their front panels fold down to create a writing surface, supported by specially designed stands called pies de puente. In contrast to their utilitarian exteriors, the interiors of these traveling desks are elaborately decorated. When open, the pieces reveal a maze of architectural details, created in carved bone and liberally covered in gold leaf Each of the Virginia House barguenos also includes a lock that, in addition to securing its contents, is carefully crafted in a way that adds visual interest to an otherwise austere front. It is interesting to note that such ornate locks have been so prized by collectors that many have been removed from other barguenos and sold separately. …

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