In the November 1939 issue of American Collector magazine, there was an article regarding antique furniture and the secret hiding spots built within. Safety deposit boxes, mutual funds, ETF’s and even checking accounts are relatively new inventions. In the 19th century and before, people relied upon stashing items in their house, be it important documents, silver, gold, jewelry, or hard currency.
With English and American furniture, the pieces most liable to contain secret compartments are desks and secretaries. Next come chests, followed by sideboards, highboys and chests on chests. Concealed drawers may also be found in tables. Traveling desks and small boxes sometimes have their secret compartments, usually in the form of false bottoms. Some secretaries and desks had as many as 20+ secret compartments, drawers, and hidden nitches.
Here’s the article in it’s entirety with additional pictures: