A slant top desk is a desk with a hinged front panel which is designed to fold shut when the desk is not in use. When shut, the top of the desk is at a slant, with a small level area at the back of the desk which the folding panel rests on. This style of desk appears to date to the 1700s, and is famously associated with the Chippendale furniture company. It is closely related to the secretary desk, except that it lacks the bookcase which usually tops a traditional secretary desk.
This style of desk is sometimes known as a slope-front, drop drop, or bureau desk. Some American furniture companies refer to it as a Governor Winthrop style desk, despite the fact that the real Governor Winthrop actually died before the slant top desk was in use. The defining feature of the desk, whatever one calls it, is the hinged and slanted front panel which folds down to create a workspace, and may be secured with sliders or chains during use.
Traditionally, the slant top desk was built with a number of large drawers underneath, with room being provided to sit in a chair pulled up to the desk when the top was dropped down. Inside the compartment created by the closing top, there are usually cubbyholes, shelves, and drawers which can be used for storage. Since the contents of the desk need to be cleared away when it is closed, these spaces provide storage for items which need to be kept in the desk.
Some slant top desk designs include a lock for security. When people are done with their work, they can close the top and lock the desk up so that the contents will be inaccessible, and the drawers below may lock as well, depending on the design. The design was intended for use by secretaries, accountants, and others who might be handling personal and sensitive information, and thus would want to be able to lock up when they would not be around.
Many furniture companies make slant top desks in a variety of styles, ranging from replicas of antiques to more modern designs. Such desks are popular with people who have limited spaces in which to work, as the desk is compact and takes up little room when it is not in use, assuming that people close the lid when they are finished at the slant top desk.