Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On display at Oakwell Hall, West Yorkshire


1500-1600 (made)
Place of origin

On loan to Oakwell Hall.

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Oak, boarded, tracery
Brief description
Livery oak cupboard, German 16th century with later tracery c1900, 13/3702M
Physical description
The centre of the front is occupied by two hinged doors, one pierced with a rectangular panel of tracery and the other with a circular rose. The front stiles are cut with distinctive vertical mouldings. The doors are bound by four long iron hinges each terminating in a rosette. At the top is a battlemented moulding.

The main timbers about 3cm thick. The hinges hand-made and apparently of an early date.

The interior corners reinforced with pine battens on modern nails.
At one point fitted with 3 shelves (missing).
The back and PL side and PL front stile are of more degraded oak planks than top and PR side and PR stile.
  • Height: 158cm
  • Width: 83cm
  • Depth: 46.5cm
Credit line
Given by Mr. Frank Green, FSA
Object history
Given by Frank Green, FSA. Treasurer's House, York. RP: 13/3702M. 'Badly damaged, portions missing. Much worn, split and broken.'

Notes taken from dept file: 'Said to have come from Shipton between Halifax and Bradford, Yorkshire. Circ. MN 36608.
There is no such provenance named in the R.P. Gazzetters give no SHIPTON between Halifax and Bradford; SKIPTON is now very near.

Mr. S. Wolsey has a photograph of this object it its original condition. The two doors are plain without any piercing - the latter having been added, presumably in the 20th century, to add interest and value to the piece. According to Wolsey, the cupboard is of German origin.

On long loan to Oakwell Hall, Batley (reg. file 55/2298)

The decorative elements and mix of metalwork suggest that this cupboard is not early English but late medieval German with some crude alterations, including the carved piercings. A number of anomalies including inconsistencies in the condition of the wood may also indicate that it was created in the late 19th century, using some old elements. It has no base or feet as would seem essential. It is held together with a mix of very large hand-made nails, modern nails and traces (PR rear) of metal angle reinforcers. On the PR a large amount of exposed worm channels suggests the possibility of reused old wood.
On loan to Oakwell Hall.
Bibliographic references
  • Mercer, Eric. The Social History of the Decorative Arts 700-1700. London, 1969, Pl 72.
  • Roe, Fred. A History of Oak Furniture. (London, 1920), Pl XVIII.
  • Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture (Country Life 1924-7, 2nd rev. ed. 1954), 3 vols., “Cupboards, Food'', p 185, Fig 5. 'A standing food cupboard without feet, one of a number which survive from this period, probably dates from the end of the reign of Henry VIII. The production of a carpenter working in the expiring Gothic tradition, it is constructed of hewn planks, the doors of the superimposed cupboards in the centre being pierced with tracery of a very degenerate type and secured by long iron hinges with foliated ends.'
  • CESCINSKY, Herbert & Ernest Gribble: Early English Furniture & Woodwork. Vol. II, pp 25-26, Fig. 36. 'There are later methods visible in many of these pieces, however, such as the scratch-moulding of the upright styles of Fig. 36 for example, which show that mere crudity is no necessary indication of age.'
  • Herbert Cescinsky, "Post-Dissolution Gothic" in English Furniture, Apollo August 1934 pp.73-9, fig.II and IIA, p.75 Illustrates the same cupboard before pierced ornament was added to the doors, arguing that a plain cupboard from Westphalia or Hanover was unscrupulously altered to make it more marketable, presumably c1900
  • Charles H. Hayward, Antique or Fake? The Making of Old Furniture. London: Evans Brothers, 1970, illustrated on p. 168.
Accession number

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Record createdJune 22, 2005
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