Trent sent me a link to this object; coming up in a sale at Sotheby’s in April. It’s mid-17th century, English. Really high-style, on a par with the carved Dutch work I showed a few weeks ago. This one is listed as oak, fruitwood, mother-of-pearl, bone & ivory. Doesn’t mention snakewood or other tropical woods; but I imagine that’s what the veneers are, perhaps the applied turnings as well.
At first glance, it’s not even apparent what this thing is – for those new to joinery, it’s a chest of drawers, with doors. It comes in two cases, the lower contains (usually) three drawers, behind a pair of doors. The upper case has two drawers, one very shallow, the other quite deep. There is a fabulous Boston example at Yale University’s Art Gallery.
Five years ago, I strolled thru the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and shot some pretty poor photos of one they display. Here’s some of those photos:
Not too long ago, Trent & I looked at the pared-down cousin of the Yale one at the MFA. No doors. Still a great object.
I got this shot from their website, but you’ll see more of it when Trent & I finish our article for American Furniture 2010. Woods used include ebony for the long applied turnings on the upper case.
I was both surprised and pleased to see that the deep drawer was made of stock that is glued-up – surprised because I assumed it was wide oak stock riven from a giant log. Pleased because, if the day comes when I get to make one for my wife, I can work it up from a reasonable oak log. (my photos below show different color because of lighting conditions, these shots were for study purposes…)
The drawers are oak on the sides & rear, I think pine fronts if I remember right. The carcass is made up mostly of oak & cedrela odorata; a cousin of mahogany. But in this case, riven stock. Some cedrelas are ring-porous, which means they split well; unlike mahogany, with its interlocked grain. (like I know anything about mahogany)
The drawer’s back board is wide oak; but riven down to clapboard-like thickness. barely dressed at all…just on the inside.
Here’s the drawer’s details; half-blind dovetails at front; rabbet at rear (nailed from the back); a groove for the bottom boards to fit to the inside of the drawer front. Bottom is nailed up to the edges of the sides and rear. The side-hung deep drawer runs on a pair of slats inside the case, all the other drawers have single runners. I doubt I measured the drawer; but my guess is it’s about 10″ deep, maybe a bit more.
So, not the kind of stuff I am making these days; but the stuff I am thinking about while we write this spring. Really the pinnacle of joinery in New England. Look up Yale’s when you get a chance; here is a link: