History of the President's Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, White House

History of the Resolute Desk


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When the HMS Resolute was broken up, two more desks were made:

The second is a Writing Table which was kept for many years in Buckingham Palace, but is now on loan to the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth England. As can be seen, the style and carving detail of this writing table are completely different from the Resolute Desk.

The non-idential twin Resolute Desk

It bears a brass plate with an inscription with similar - but not identical - wording to that on the Resolute Desk

Brass Plaque on the Writing Table



The third desk, a delicately fashioned lady's desk known as the "Queen Victoria Desk" or the "Grinnell Desk" was a gift from the Queen to Henry Grinnell's widow (Henry died in 1874), in gratitude for his contribution toward the Franklin rescue attempts. It is currently on display in the Boston Whaling Museum.

Grinnell Desk



There has been some confusion about whether yet another desk exists that is an identical twin to the one in the Oval Office. We wrote to the Royal Collection at St James's Palace in London to ask for clarification, and they were kind enough to send us this reply:


I am afraid that in reality there was never any twin desk made. As I am sure you are aware, the famous desk in the Oval Office of the White House was made from the timbers of the HMS Resolute. Papers in the Royal Archives do confirm there was also a small writing table made for Queen Victoria. This is the table you have seen which is now at the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth. As you have noticed, it is much smaller and different in style from the Presidents desk, and cannot really be described as a twin.


 



David Newton, Owner



 
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Resolute Desk