Chests certainly do come in every shape and size - on feet, on stands or just on the floor. We also include coffers in this section as they also sometimes have one or more drawers. Chests follow similar lines stylistically to bookcases and cabinets and really only started to become popular in the second half of the 17th century. None of the art of the cabinetmaker is lost on these pieces however, with some having beautful fitments to the top drawers. Although chests all fall into three main sorts: straight fronted, bow fronted and serpentine fronted, there is an endless variety of interpretations.
Charles II Oak, Snakewood, Yewwood and Ebony Mule Chest
A particularly sophisticated mid 17th.Century Oak Mule Chest or Coffer with Drawer, the hinged plank top above a frieze with appliques, yewwood mouldings, ebony panels and three geometrically applied panels above three Snakewood veneered cushion moulded panels having stylised ebonised quatrefoil guilloche centres seperated by stiles with further applied mouldings and ebony panels above a pea and bean moulding, the conforming base drawer above a moulded edge and the whole raised on stiles. This piece has panelled ends and is in two sections.
Note: Larger pieces at this time were often made in two or more parts for ease of transportation and moving within a home. Often referred to as Country Furniture, pieces of this nature were not made by estate joiners but would have been made in the major towns and cities. The degree of complexity and the use of rare timbers like yewwood and exotic woods like snakewood would have made this an expensive "showpiece" when it was first made and strongly suggests it would been made for an important household.
H: 35½" (90 cms) W: 54½" (138 cms) D: 24" (60 cms)
Price: £4,500 / US$ 6,795 / € 5,265
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Charles II Oak and Ebony Coffer
An important 17th Century Oak Coffer, the hinged lid of plank construction opening to a candle box and tray, above a frieze with ebonised lozenge and bar appliques above a carved band and three panel front, each panel with geometric ebonised appliques and panels within mouldings, the stiles with ebonised geometric and split turned mouldings, the whole with panelled ends and raised on stiles.
Note: Often referred to as Country Furniture, pieces of this nature were not made by estate joiners but would have been made in the major towns and cities. The degree of complexity would have made this an expensive "showpiece" when it was first made and strongly suggests it would been made for a more important household.
H: 27½" (69 cms) W: 47" (119 cms) D: 21½" (54 cms)
Price: £1,850 / US$ 2,794 / € 2,165
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Late 17th. Century Oak Three Panel Coffer
A late Seventeenth Century Oak Coffer, the four panel lid retaining the original ring hinges above the scratch carved frieze and three panel front, each panel with a carved lozenge and fleur de lys decoration, the whole raised on stiles and having panelled ends. This example has a particularly good colour and patination.
H: 28" (71 cms) W: 49½" (125 cms) D: 18" (45 cms)
Price: £1,675 / US$ 2,529 / € 1,960
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William and Mary Oyster Kingwood and Marquetry Chest on Stand by Jensen
A superb and rare William and Mary Period Oyster Kingwood, Rosewood and Arabesque/ Seaweed Marquetry Chest on Stand attributed to Gerrit Jensen, the top with a central four lobed, quartered, marquetry panel framed by kingwood oysters and further roundels, semicircles and trefoils of marquetry, the edge with further marquetry panels within two trailing borders, the chest with two half width and three full width drawers with conforming marquetry panels and borders, the sides with rosewood oysters and four lobed marquetry panels within conforming borders, the stand with one full width conforming drawer within trailing borders, the same borders also applied to the top moulding of the stand and again the sides with conforming marquetry panels. The stand is raised on six barley twist and trumpet legs united by a crossbanded wavy stretcher and finished with six turned bun feet. All the mouldings are cross grained.
Full description and attribution of this fabulous Antique Chest available on request.
H: 53" (134 cms) W: 42" (106 cms) D: 24½" (62 cms)
Price: £45,000 / US$ 67,950 / € 52,650
William and Mary Oyster Veneered Kingwood Cabinet on Chest by Thomas Pistor
An extraordinary William and Mary Period Kingwood Oyster veneered and Rosewood Crossbanded Cabinet on Chest by Thomas Pistor, the moulded top above a bolection moulded secret drawer oyster veneered to resemble a wave motion and above two doors each with geometrically inlaid patterns of roundels and corner spandrels within crossbanded borders and opening to reveal a fully fitted interior of 11 drawers around a central door all conformingly inlaid, the door opening to reveal further small drawers, the base with two half width and two full width oyster kingwood geometrically inlaid drawers with conforming bandings and the whole raised on Bun Feet. This is a rare opportunity to acquire this remarkable Antique Cabinet.
This exceptional piece is one from a family of cabinets all made by Thomas Pistor, who worked in London from about 1668 to 1706. We have been fortunate enough to have owned three of these pieces in the last 60 years. The first is illustrated in Dr. Adam Bowett's book "English Furniture, 1660 - 1714 From Charles II to Queen Anne " illus. 7.30, page 209. Bowett comments in his book that as Kingwood (Princeswood) was the most expensive and rarest exotic veneer available at the time, it was only ever used on the very best and most prized items.. The attribution of these extraordinary pieces is based on an article in Country Life 11th. August 1950, depicting Buxted Park, the home of Sir Basil Ionedes, and showing quite clearly a conforming parquetry inlaid Kingwood Escritoire and commenting that this bears the makers' label for Mr. Thomas Pistor, Ludgate Hill, London
A major article on Thomas Pistor and his son, also Thomas, was published in the Journal of the Furniture History Society "Furniture History" in 2000, and was researched and written by Adriana Turpin. She rightly states that Pistor's work is on a par with the Royal Cabinetmakers, John Gumley and Gerrit Jensen. and indeed. all three worked for Colonel James Grahme who was a high ranking courtier to James II. See FHS Journal 2000, pp 43 to 60.
Lit: "English Furniture, 1660 - 1714 From Charles II to Queen Anne ", Dr. Adam Bowett, illus. 7.30, page 209.
"Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840", Geoffrey Beard & Christopher Gilbert Page 701.
"Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700 - 1840", Christopher Gilbert, Page 44.
"The London Furniture Makers from the Restoration to the Victorian Era 1660-1840", Sir Ambrose Heal. Page 138.
H: 65" (165 cms) W: 40" (101 cms) D: 19½" (49 cms)
Price: £60,000 / US$ 90,600 / € 70,200
George II Walnut and Mirrored Tea Caddy
An extremely rare and valuable early 18th. century figured walnut and mirrored panel Tea Caddy retaining the original makers label for Antony Berrisford of Bakewell , Derbyshire to the base.
The label reads:
"Antony Berrisford, Statuary Graver and Carver, Bakewell in Derbyshire, Has always ready for sale a large
Quantity of English and Foreign Marbles, O.....n Gentlemen may have Chimney Pieces, Tables, Monuments, Gravestones, Statues, Busts, And all kind of Ornaments and Marble, Curious Crystalline Substances Done in the Best...... manner And at Reasonable Rates"
This is just the most extraordinary example of the sort of Antique Chest made during the Georgian Period explicitly to house that expensive commodity - Tea and to stop the servants from stealing it.
H: 7" (17 cms) W: 11" (27 cms) D: 7½" (19 cms)
Price: £7,750 / US$ 11,703 / € 9,068
George III Mahogany Gentleman's Secretaire Press
A superb early George III period Mahogany Secretaire Gentleman's Press with shaped cornice above a dentil frieze cavetto and fluted frieze with serpentine detail. The upper part with two panelled doors opening to reveal five sliding trays, the base with a fitted drawer containing twelve satinwood and tulipwood cross-banded small drawers above three further full width graduated drawers, the whole raised on sculpted trefoil shaped bracket feet.
Note: The serpentine detail on the cornice combined with the exquisitely panelled back, the shaping of the feet at the back and the dustboards between the drawers all point to a cabinet maker of exceptional ability. The s-shaped keyhole escutcheons are always associated with the work of Thomas Chippendale and would suggest his authorship of this piece too.
During the 18th. century not every room had space for Antique Desks taking up the centre of the room so pieces like this Antique Cabinet or Gentleman's Press as they were known were made with a secretaire drawer for writing at.
H: 85½" (217 cms) W: 52½" (133 cms) D: 22½" (57 cms)
Price: £20,000 / US$ 30,200 / € 23,400
Partridgewood Tea Caddy
A pretty George III Period Partridgewood Octagonal Tea Caddy strung with boxwood throughout and crossbanded in Tulipwood within black and white bands and retaining the original lid inside. Note: Partridgewood (Caesalpinia Granadillo) is a member of the Brazilwood family of trees coming from South America and is so called because of the similarity of the grain to the feathers on a partridge. Tulipwood (Dalbergia Frutescens) is the same family as Rosewood but with a yellow/pink/red stripe as opposed to the black of Rosewood. This is the sort of Antique Chest made during the Georgian Period explicitly to house that expensive commodity - Tea and to stop the servants from stealing it.
H: 5" (12 cms) W: 4¾" (12 cms) D: 4" (10 cms)
Price: £425 / US$ 642 / € 497
George III Mahogany Commode
A pretty George III period mahogany commode with black and white line inlay to top and front, raised on splayed bracket feet united by a shaped apron.The lid is hinged to open upwards and the two dummy drawers are hinged forward and this has been converted to a bar. Ca.1790
H: 27" (68 cms) W: 23½" (59 cms) D: 18¾" (47 cms)
Price: £950 / US$ 1,435 / € 1,112
Superb Satinwood,Ormolu and Gilt Cabinet with Wedgwood Plaques
A superb Satinwood Breakfront Cabinet by Wright and Mansfield, designed by Crosse in the Adam Revival style. The galleried superstructure supported by four reeded gilt columns with carved gilt acanthus details above three frieze drawers with a central Wedgwood green jasperware plaque , the base with three cupboard doors each with a further Wedgwood plaque depicting Greek philosophers, cupids and winged figures and flanked by classical gilt reeded Doric Columns and raised on a plinth base. The whole piece is elaborately inlaid in harewood, boxwood and other stained woods in the neo-classical manner with bell-flowers, ribbons, swags and urns.
Wright and Mansfield were one of the most prominent of Victorian Furniture makers in England producing the very finest pieces in the Adam and Sheraton Revival styles. They were established at 184 New Bond Street between 1860 and 1886 and were described in "The Cabinetmaker and Art Furnisher" Vol. II as "... the leaders of that pleasing fashion which was happily brought back into our houses many of the charming shapes of the renowned 18th. century cabinet makers."
Their comparable medal winning cabinet exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867 was the only piece of British furniture to be awarded a Gold Medal. It was praised for the high quality of its materials and workmanship and seen as "very English" due to the use of Satinwood and Neo-classical decoration. It was acquired in 1868 by the Victoria and Albert Museum to show its visitors the difference between 18th. century furniture and nineteenth century reproduction pieces of the highest quality. The V&A Cabinet was designed by a Mr. Crosse of whom nothing further appears to be known.
The similarity between this cabinet and the V&A example is so striking with the same decorative motifs, timbers and identical Wedgwood plaques that a common authorship is not in doubt and there is the strong probability that the two pieces were made as part of a suite of furnishings.
Provenance: Holly Johnson Antiques, 2003, Private Collection.
Wright and Mansfield Alfred Thomas Wright first came to notice in 1856 as a junior partner in the firm of Samuel Hanson, a cabinetmaker and upholsterer trading from 16 John Street (later Great Portland Street), and 106 Oxford Street. The company was joined by George Needham Mansfield, son of the old established builders and decorators George Mansfield, of Grays Inn Lane and Wigmore Street, and the firm is recorded in Post Office journals as Hanson, Wright and Mansfield at the above addresses until 1861, when Hanson died. Thereafter the company traded as Wright and Mansfield, and swiftly rose to prominence after their exhibits at the 1862 International Exhibition held in London, on the site of what is now the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. Attended by over six million visitors, despite the death in 1861 of Prince Albert, and the absence of Queen Victoria, who was still in mourning. The Art Journal Catalogue of the International Exhibition, and J.B. Waring's ' Masterpieces of Industrial Art and Sculpture' of 1862 record their work, and two bookcases, and a fireplace constructed of 'Ginn' or 'Gean' wood, with inset Wedgwood plaques were illustrated, along with a piano, painted in the manner of George Brookshaw, and commented upon and favourably compared to the Eighteenth Century work of 'Adelphi' Adams.
The progress and incredible quality presented by the exhibitors occasioned Eugene Rouher, the prominent French statesman, after the exhibition to form a committee, taking as a premise ' the results of the Exposition prove, that if rapid progress is not made in France, we will quickly be outstripped by our rivals'. At the 1867 Paris Universelle Exposition, a remarkable satinwood, marquetry, bronze and Wedgwood mounted cabinet won a Gold medal, the only time such an honour was bestowed upon an English cabinet maker, by the judges, presided over by M. du Sommerard director of the Cluny Museum, and M Wilkinson, Administrator de Mobilier de la Courrone. The Gold medal was presented personally to Wright & Mansfield by the Emperor Napoleon the 3rd. The cabinet was purchased by the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria and Albert Museum) for the extraordinary sum, in those days, of £800. It remains in their possession today. Their showing at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition attracted wide admiration, and was most favourably commented upon in the journals of the day
H: 66½" (168 cms) W: 55¼" (140 cms) D: 25½" (64 cms)
Price: £50,000 / US$ 75,500 / € 58,500