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Thank you for the detailed reply. So, the apron/rail runs around the edge of the tabletop and the tabletop sits within an inner rebate cut in the apron: this sounds highly plausible. I’ve attached another photo having looked at it more carefully, that appears to support your analysis (shows the difference in thickness between top of the leg and top of apron rebate).
The drawer carcass would serve well to prevent warping. If I was to leave one end without drawers I could perhaps use turn buttons instead to keep the top flat and within the rebate. I see the apron now exists and appears thicker than I previously appreciated.
Great detective work. Thanks for sharing your assessment. I like the edge of your desk. Definitely gives it a lighter feel and appearance.