The fine dense
timbers with rich color and patination,
the rectangular caddy
top over two short and three long graduated long drawers,
having a molded front set with original small closed batwing
the whole raised on bracket feet; the woods are solid,
adding to the wonderful weight of the chest
This is a rare and
early chest employing padouk (padauk) woods from the Indies.
Padouk wood is a very dense, heavy and fine
grained wood closely resembling Cuban (Jamaican) mahoganies.
The main difference is in the vibrancy of the rich reddish orange
which ranges to purples and blacks in the shadows.
Excerpted from Adam Bowett's Woods in British Furniture Making 1400-1900, regarding Padouk :
"Padouk was known as early as 1670, in Evelyn's Sylva.
Pterocarpus is the genus.
Evelyn writes, "....brought from both the
Indies as one of the red woods used by 'inlayers'....".
it was imported specifically for furniture making, and valued for
It appears, to a limited extent, on joined chests of drawers
and other furniture of c. 1650-70,
either as veneers or as applied
moldings and bosses.
As the East India trade expanded during the
early part of the 18th c.
It became available in increasing
quantities, but the amounts never rivaled bulk timbers like
Main periods of importation were 1726-40 and 1750-66. East
India officers were allowed to bring in private trade as well."
Tariffs on "imported woods" remained excessively high
until the Naval Stores Act of 1721
made importation and commercial
use possible. Prior to this event,
very few pieces of imported
woods, including mahogany and padouk,
been used for furniture, simply due to the great expense.
The construction on the
drawers of this chest is one that, also according to Adam Bowett, was
obsolete by about 1720.
Provenance : With Paul Coutts, London & Edinburgh, retaining 1989 Bill of Sale
Condition : Excellent with early surfaces and original brasses;
nicks and scratches appropriate to almost 300 years of use
36” High x 36” Wide x 20” Deep