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Walnut and Olivewood Oyster Chest

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Walnut and Olivewood Oyster Chest

- Item No.

Oyster olivewood veneer is used to create a skillful design on this stunning William and Mary chest

Key Features

  • This William and Mary-period chest beautifully illustrates the exceptional art of oyster veneering
  • Skillfully crafted, the chest features bun feet and bronze pulls
  • To find one of these rare chests in such wonderful condition is extremely rare
  • Circa 1690
  • 38 ¼" wide x 22 ¾" deep x 35 3/8" high

Item Details

  • Width:
    38 1/4 Inches
  • Height:
    35 3/8 Inches
  • Depth:
    22 3/4 Inches
  • Period:
    William and Mary / Queen Ann
  • Origin:
    England/Ireland
This magnificent and extremely rare William and Mary-period oyster-veneered walnut chest is a true treasure. This masterful design features sections of luxurious olivewood to create the dynamic, oyster shell motif, which has aged to exhibit a rich and warm patina. Elevated upon bun feet, the chest's exceptional design also incorporates fine bronze pulls. After more than 300 years, the chest remains in remarkably fine condition. Comparatively few period examples of this quality and condition can be found today, making this an exceptional find. 

 Circa 1690 

 38 ¼" wide x 22 ¾" deep x 35 3/8" high 

 The practice of veneering furniture with thin sheets of decorative woods became popular in the mid-17th century during a period of transition in furniture making. Chests of drawers replaced the older, more cumbersome deep chests during this period and cabinetmakers continually sought to improve the appearance of these innovative and popular pieces. Walnut veneering, with its beautiful figuring and patina, became the favored choice among craftsmen. Oyster veneering, a technique indicative of the William and Mary period, was achieved by transversely cutting or slicing the smaller branches of certain trees such as walnut or olive. These small, rounded veneers, with their circular striations, resembled the inside of an oyster, and when pieced together, produced a most dramatic and impressive decorative effect. Oyster veneering was a painstaking process, however, and was used on only the finest pieces intended for the wealthiest clientele. To find a chest of such importance is rare. To find one exhibiting the finest qualities of the period and in such wonderful condition is extremely rare indeed. 

 As styles and tastes evolved over the years, many of these chests were altered to accommodate the new fashions. Bun feet were replaced with bracket feet and hardware was often "updated" to reflect newer 18th-century styling. The damp stone floors of 17th-century castles and manor houses also caused damage to the original bun feet of many chests, making them susceptible to wood worms, which eventually required that they be replaced. As with literally every piece from this period, this chest is supported on later bun feet and the period-style hardware was added later. 

 Reference:
 Veneered Walnut Furniture, 1946, R.W. Symonds

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Price: $42,500
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