Jan & John Maggs

Antiques and Art

17th century desk box with unique carving on its face and two interior drawers

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An engaging slant-lid desk box or “slope”, purchased decades ago from an English picker who told us that he had purchased it from the collection of Victor Chinnery, Author of Oak Furniture: The British Tradition.

 Provenance aside, the decoration on the face of the box is noteworthy for the way it repeats a seemingly simple pattern no fewer than 92 times!

A look at the pattern, reveals just how complex was its execution. Allowing for the fact that the chisel strokes were simple and direct, each of the deeply carved segments required two cuts with a gouge, while the narrow lines separating adjacent segments were scratch-carved and then embellished further with shallow stroked with a smaller gouge. Horizontal grooves carved or planed into the face contain the design effectively.  spaces are filled in with punch-work and chisel-stroke Xs. The effect is mesmerizing.

The sides of the box were planed smooth but unadorned, and the lid was edged on all sides with a simple planed moulding.

The lid is held in place by two large, forged butterfly hinges. Lifting the lid reveals two capacious drawers, each fitted with a brass ring. (Sorry, no secret drawers!)

The box is in very good condition, with some old worm damage inside and slight shrinkage in the two bottom boards, which protrude slightly in the front, providing a subtle base for the elaborate carving.

Excellent color, dry surface except for a light coating of Harrell’s furniture wax to the front panel only, and good, tight condition.

A great box for the storage of family treasures, or an outstanding addition to a collection.

English, ca. 1650.

Price: $850

Questions? Click HERE.

Inventory #26018

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