Tambours are flexible screens composed of narrow slats of wood mounted on a silk, canvas or leathercloth backing, and running in grooves which control the travel. The system originated in France in the seventeenth century, was introduced into England in the eighteenth century, fell into disuse in the Victorian era, was popularized by the American pattern roll-top desk and has since been firmly re-established, forming as it does an admirable space-saving method of closing carcass openings. Tambours can be vertical, rising or falling (249:1, 2) or horizontal, moving from side to side (249:3, 4), and can be secured with a bird's beak, sliding door or box lock. They can be built up of solid slats, shaped, chamfered or rounded on the edges, or veneered in simulation of a solid sheet.
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