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The Baden-Powell Desk

This beautiful intricate writing desk was created by William Seuffert (1858 – 1943). He gained the artistry and finesse to create this in the workshop of his master craftsman father Anton Seuffert. The Seuffert family were originally from Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic) and came to Auckland in 1859, when William was a baby.

The Baden-Powell Desk. Production date: 1903, Auckland. Primary maker: William Seuffert. Materials: Native woods including, burr tōtara, kauri, rewarewa, pūriri, and kohekohe Method: Marquetry and parquetry (inlaying wood pieces to make images and geometric shapes).

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tamaki Paenga Hira. ID: 2013.34.1

William was commissioned to make this desk in 1900 as a gift for Major-General Robert Baden-Powell, who had led the 217-day defence of Mafeking during the Boer War in South Africa.

Remaining in the family ever since, this exquisite desk was sold by the Major-General’s descendant, the 3rd Baron Baden-Powell, to Auckland Museum in 2013.

Funds to purchase this desk have come from the Disney Art Trust. This Trust was established by Charles Disney who, in 1967 aged 82, bequeathed significant endowments to Auckland Museum and Wellington’s Dominion Museum. Accumulating his wealth after a lifetime of shrewd investment and prudent saving, Charles instructed that this money be spent on beautiful things.

The Baden-Powell desk took almost three years to complete and is considered to be the best piece William Seuffert ever made.