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Magnificent and Rare Antwerp Cabinet, 17th C
Oak casework with Gabon Ebony veneer on all exterior surfaces. Inlaid panels of genuine tortoise shell, each banded with a 1mm ivory band, a 4mm ebony band, another 1mm ivory band, and a 4mm mahogany band; this motif carried on the inside and outside of the two large outside doors, bonnet front, all drawer faces, the inside door and panel, and the legs and stretchers. Exterior features symmetrical molded double doors, one long drawer, two short drawers, and an upward hinged top covering a green baize-lined compartment. Double doors open to reveal 10 drawers and an arcaded door with inlaid ivory cameo of a trumpeting sea nymph, flanked by two tortoise shell veneered round columns with ebony bases and capitals. Behind this door is a compartment with ebony and ivory checkerboard base, 8 gilt wood columns, mirrored panels, and an ebony, tortoise shell, and ivory panel inlaid with an ivory rhinoceros and cavalier. This "secret" panel removes to reveal 4 small drawers. All drawer boxes are dovetailed oak. Original brass hardware, featuring drop pulls and knobs; the outside doors and drawers, lid, and inside door with locks and escutcheons (two different locks and keys).
Matching ORIGINAL base with arched apron and 5 trumpet-shaped legs connected by stretchers. All surfaces inlaid ensuite with matching tortoise shell, ivory, ebony, and mahogany panels. While few of these cabinets still exist, most of those extant have replaced bases. In fact, after an extensive online search for other Antwerp Cabinets throughout the world, the ONLY one found with an original base was this one!
Overall condition very good plus for its age and fragility, with some replaced or missing ivory banding. Height 60 1/4", width 39", depth 17".
These cabinets were made by the finest furniture craftsmen at the height of wealth and power in the Netherlands. They relied on the trade of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) for the exotic raw materials, which were new to Europe at this time. Such cabinets were extremely expensive in their day, afforded by only the very wealthy and the nobility. The term "Antwerp Cabinet" refers to where they originated. They were also called "Collector’s Cabinets" because they were used to store and display small collectible items. Collecting was a relatively new hobby among the new wealthy class created by the abundant foreign trade. Such cabinets were only made for a relatively short time because of the scarcity of materials, with later examples using faux materials as original supplies dwindled.