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Antique Boxes in English Society
1760 -1900
Writing Boxes
Writing Boxes




A Rare late 18th Century Mahogany, Tambour Top Writing Box Circa 1800.

A late 18th Century mahogany, tambour top writing box in the manner of a drawing in The Cabinet-Maker's London Book of Prices 1788.  by Thomas Shearer, inlaid to the top with a conch shell inlay, having twin carrying handles.

Dimensions when closed:

11" wide by 7.25 high by 9.5" deep.

Click on the images to enlarge:

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Figure 4 of , Writing Box Designs by Thomas Shearer, from The Cabinet-Maker's London Book of Prices 1788.  

The box  has a drawer operated by the "tambour" method: as the role top of the box is opened the drawer emerges.

The box is framed with a crossbanding of tulipwood and edged with boxwood, except around the tambour which is framed with a geometric purfling in contrasting woods.

The twin carrying handles  are gently patinated.

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Detail: the slatted tambour which is made from molded slats fixed to a flexible canvas backing.

To the top there is a conch shell inlay.

Inside the twin drawers are faced with satin birch.

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Detail of the conch shell inlay. The wood is mainly maple; the shading is achieved by scorching the elements in hot sand. 

Side view with the drawer open.
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The drawer has blind dovetails to the front. These are particularly fine.


Side view of one of the smaller drawers: there are blind dovetails to the front edge and through dovetails to the back. sher09.jpg (90637 bytes)


The box has two late 18th Century  glass inkwells with silver plated tops.

Working lock and key.

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sher11.jpg (647237 bytes) We found a fragment of a label inside. 

At the moment we think the address on the label maybe 13 Brownlow Street Holborn, Strand, London. 

These premises were occupied by 

Batey (  -1820d)

Batley, William is then recorded who in turn were taken over by Fuller & Levet. 


In our recorded box makers in our forthcoming book we give: 

FULLER, W. C. (Late Batley): 1835-39, Manufacturer 13 Brownlow Str. Holborn London.

1. Rosewood veneered writing box with brass surround and sunk in handles. Complicated arrangement of secret drawers, having an extra trap with a side drawer under the secret drawers. There is also a very unusual double bottom, with one layer constructed of narrow strips of mahogany, folding back like a rolled top desk. Good quality and unique arrangement.

For the historical context of this writing box read the relevant part of Antigone's Online Antique Box Book. If you click here you will go there.

We have written a highly  illustrated book on Antique Boxes and Tea caddies  which is being  published by  Schiffer Books USA.

  © 2002 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly