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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    about 1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by H. Clifford Smith

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Oak writing box of boarded construction (using hand-made nails), the front with geometrical chip carving with guilloche (three circles either side of the lock plate, fastened on hand-made nails and apparently original)

The lid formed of two boards (flat sawn but probably replacement), with moulded edges and cleats (probably replacement) held on original hinges (one repaired);
The bottom formed of two boards (sawn) joined in a 'bird's mouth' joint, and nailed up with hand-made nails. A gap has opened between the two boards, without however causing significant splitting, suggesting that the bottom may be replaced.
The lid and sides noticeably fresher and cleaner than the front and back. A shadow line around the front and sides of the bottom indicates a nailed moulding, now missing.
The PL side and front of quartered oak, the PR side and back flat sawn.
Possibly created using a 17th century box front and lock, hinges.

The guilloche is a popular renaissance motif and very widely used. See A.J. Conybeare, A discourse on boxes of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries (Hanley Swan, Worcestershire 1993), p.49f.

Place of Origin

England (made)


about 1600 (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 25.5 cm, Width: 66 cm, Depth: 41.5 cm

Object history note

Given by H. Clifford Smith. 'Bought by the donor at Felixtowe, Suffolk about 1900'...'from a dealer who said that he had got it from a cottage in the neighbourhood. The carving on the front seems to me above average in quality...'

RP: 19/48

This piece was put forward for consideration by a Board of Survey in 1939 (Registered Papers 39/446 on VA Policy Files 200-1) for de-accessioning on the grounds that it was 'Made up' but no action seems to have been taken.

Descriptive line

English 1600-1640

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Writing Desk, with sloping lid, the front carved with rosettes within guilloches.

Purchased by donor at Felixstowe, Suffolk. Early 17th century.
From catalogue H. 10 ½ in., W. 2 ft., D. 1 ft. 3 ½ in.
(H. 26.7 cm, W. 61 cm, D. 39.4 cm)

Given by H. Clifford Smith, Esq.

From: H. Clifford Smith, Catalogue of English Furniture & Woodwork
(London 1930), 585.

Production Note

Possibly Eastern Counties; restored probably 1850-1900


Household objects; Furniture; Containers; Woodwork; Medieval and renaissance


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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