An 18thC Brass Studded Padouk Chest

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Origin: English Colonial
Period: Late Eighteenth Century
Provenance: N/A
Date: c.1780
Height: 21.5 inches
Depth: 17 inches
Width: 38 inches

A handsome and beguiling piece of furniture, constructed entirely of padouk wood, the front panel decorated with brass studs composed into two panels, flanking a triangular design around the old lock in the centre. The lid is decorated with three rows of studs at the facing edge, a triangular brass plate at the centre, and pierced hanging plate which fits over the escutcheon. The lid opens to large open interior, with a side compartment for smaller items, the bottom of which slides across to reveal a hidden secret compartment, originally for storing money and other valuables.

As is usual with chests of this type, it has some old scuffs, marks and scratches accumulated over the centuries, and some brass corners have been applied and reapplied (probably in the nineteenth century), and the hanging pierced plate is possibly later (again, perhaps applied in the nineteenth century).

Padouk wood comes from the genus Pterocarpus, which grows exclusively in Africa and Asia. Its valuable wood is highly prized, and when cut is a deep red colour, which dries and fades in sunlight to a warm brown. Similar to a Zanzibar or Dhow chest, in which a sea captain would keep all his belongings and cash safely, but with less profuse studwork and with clear European influences (for example the shaped apron on which it sits), this chest has a wonderful colour and exceptional patina. Despite its age, it is solid, beautiful, and very functional.

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