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Chest of drawers

Chest of drawers

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1660-1675 (made)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Chest of drawers, caved walnut, with elm lid and oak drawer-linings. The lid opening on two pointed iron strap hinges has edge mouldings fitted over the sides of a box-top, with fluted frieze in front and at the sides. Three drawers, each with two turned handles, handle-plates in the form of a ring with large tulip-shaped devices on either side and small trefoils above and below, carved in low flat relief in imitation of ironwork plates. At each end sunken panels containing diamond shaped bolection mouldings. Moulded skirting below a border of fluting. Four square feet. Box-top and drawers lined with white lining papers printed from wooden blocks in black, with a design of leafy stems, grape-bunches and flowers, and including, on the underside of the lid, paired ovals containing a shield of the Royal Arms, as borne by Charles II, and bordered with the garter motto 'Honi Soit Qui Mal Pense'. The printed pattern has much in common with English embroidery patterns of the period.

This piece is mid 17th century. It has dulled top joints. The drawer bottoms are nailed except for groove. The tongue is stepped at the bottom, not at the top. There are scarfed joints in bottom of the drawers. The drawer back, sides and bottom are most likely ash. The front appears to be oak with applied carving. The lock is a later fitting (the lining paper stops short of the lock and the lock itself is open sided. In assessing if the lining paper is original or not, it covers the hinges so is no older than the hinges and appears to be earlier than the nail holes. The hinges do not look very old and on the outside one of the screw heads is covered with filler. The back board is recessed at the top to receive each hinge. The front and side fluted friezes, moulding around the rising top and some of the mouldings below and at the side are walnut. The top horizontally grained section at the back is oak, the lower three vertically grained are walnut, indicating that this was replaced. The top and middle boards have pronounced saw marks whilst the left hand board has less pronounced saw marks with overlaying curved saw marks. These boards are fixed into place tongue and groove and all three lower boards are screw nailed to the upper board. The left and middle lower boards have slightly chamfered top edges but the right board does not, but does show tool marks running off upper edge which suggests that this piece was cut down. Inside the carcass the face of ash (?) backboard is rail tenon and pegged but much less oxidised. Both the style and rail look fresh but are conceivably original. The rail is stained on the outside and tenon and pegged to backboard. The top of the backstyle has been cut away to allow the lid to open 180 degrees. Both back legs have been patched at the feet.
The drawers hang on battons.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1660-1675 (made)

Object history note

Notes from RP 41/531: Bequest from the late B. Copinger Prichard, Per Messers Phillips Cummings & Ashton, 22-23 Lawrence Poutney Lane. Condition upon acquisition "Chipped, rubbed, and worn, lining papers torn, worn and faded".

Prichard had a house at 18 St Petersburgh Place, London W2 but evidently a country home as well. In 1930 he proposed leaving a substantial collection of 18th C. furniture to the V & A but nothing came of this. He died childless in 1941.

Mr Edwards, then working at the V & A, was Prichard's nephew. Edwards comments "I presume this chest has been brought up from the country" (to St Petersburgh Place) "as 18 St Petersburgh Place had been emptied of its contents".

Minute by Edwards on "Mr Coppinger Pritchard's XVIII century furniture" published in Country Life Vol lxii, 1927 p.177-181
Notes that the chest if an exception to the generally 18th C. date of most of Prichard's collection.

Historical context note

Comparable examples of printed paper pasted inside furniture:
- Recipe or reciept chest, 1580s, Germany (possibly), SBT 2001/5 (http://findingshakespeare.co.uk/shakespeares-world-in-100-objects-number-52-a-receipt-chest)
- Painted view of chest with lining print, Edward Collier, oil on canvas, 1683, National Portrait Gallery, NPG 6069

Descriptive line

Chest of drawers, English, late 17th century.

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

Shows similar examples of woodblock printed lining papers, featuring Royal Arms, found in boxes.
OMAN, Charles and Jean Hamilton: Wallpapers. A History and Illustrated Catalogue of the Collectiron of the Victoria & Albert Museum. (London, 1982), p. 89-90.

Labels and date

Carved walnut with elm lid and oak drawer-linings. The drawers lined with contemporary block-printed paper.
English; about 1670.
Bequeathed by the late Mr B. Copinger Pritchard.

The chest of drawers began to supercede the chest after the Restoration; in this early example the top still opens in the manner of a chest. [1968]
ENGLISH; about 1670
Carved walnut with elm lid and oak drawer linings. The drawers lined with contemporary block-printed paper.

Bequeathed by the late Mr. B. Copinger Pritchard. [pre October 2000]


Walnut; Elm; Oak; Paper


Block printing; Joinery; Technique; Carving


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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