An escritoire or secretary desk comes in various styles. One version is a small, portable writing desk with a sloping front door, hinged at the bottom edge, that can be opened downwards to provide a writing surface. It is usually larger than a lap desk. The interior may contain small drawers designed to hold the traditional ink pot, sand container, blotter and writing feathers or pens. This type of antique appeared in the 16th century in Europe and was produced in large quantities in France in the 18th century. Modern reproductions are sometimes made of this compact desk form. A taller version is a combination bureau/bookcase with a writing surface created by a hinged drop-down front.
From the 16th century French, based on the medieval Latin scriptorium (writing room)