I have heard Chuck Bender’s talk on secret compartments in furniture a couple of times now. One of points I believe he made was that many secret compartments were more novelties and amusements of the early mechanical age than they were places to store the family treasures. Many of the common ones are very easy to find such as the shelf below the till in many chests. The area behind the center section in the interior of a fall front desk. Many spice chests have a hidden compartment behind a removable back. I’m not saying that there aren’t truly “secret compartments” but there are many that are fairly common and widely used.
That being said, driving home from last year’s Woodworking in America, I stopped by a few antiques dealers I hadn’t previously visited. The first one in Cincinnati wasn’t that interesting until I headed into the back area. The front two thirds was had some interesting but mundane stuff but the back third was packed with some higher end antiques the likes of which I had not seen in a while.
The was one remarkable desk that had the following hidden compartment.
After being amazed by the inventory, I continued home and stopped at a shop in Ripley, Ohio. Court there was being held by a lively 93 year old woman not shy about sharing her opinion. The inventory was an good assortment of country antiques. I spent some time there and picked up a couple of unique molding planes.