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Antique Serpentine Boulle Cabinet Credenza C 1870

Antique Serpentine Boulle Cabinet Credenza C 1870

Antique Serpentine Boulle Cabinet Credenza C 1870


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About this item

This is an important antique, Victorian, ebonised, ormolu mounted, and red tortoiseshell Boulle marquetry serpentine credenza, circa 1870 in date.

It is beautifully inlaid in cut brass on tortoiseshell with a jester in the centre of the panel in the central door, in addition there is scrolling acanthus foliage with flowers  and honeysuckle. It is further adorned with a plethora of fabulous ormolu mounts.

The central cupboard door, with raised oval panel, enclose a red velvet lined interior with a shelf, and is flanked by two serpentine glass doors with shelves.

The credenza is raised on a plinth base and has its original working locks and keys.

It is virtually identical to one that can be seen in the Award Winning Television Drama, Downton Abbey,which is filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire and is the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. The exterior shots and much of the interior filming takes place there.

This is an absolutely breathtaking piece which is certain to make it a talking point in your home


In excellent condition having been beautifully restored and the interior relined in our workshops, please see photos for confirmation.


Dimensions in cm:

Height 118 x Width 215 x Depth 50

Dimensions in inches:

Height 3 feet, 10 inches x Width 7 feet, 1 inch x Depth 1 foot, 8 inches

André-Charles Boulle (1642 - 1732), was the French cabinetmaker who is generally considered to be the preeminent artist in the field of marquetry. His fame in marquetry led to his name being given to a fashion of inlaying known as Boulle (or in 19th-century Britain, Buhl work).

Boulle appears to have been originally a painter, since the first payment to him by the crown of which there is any record (1669) specifies ouvrages de peinture. He was employed for many years at Versailles, where the mirrored walls, the floors of wood mosaic, the inlaid paneling and the marquetery furniture in the Cabinet du Dauphin were regarded as his most remarkable work. These rooms were long since dismantled and their contents dispersed, but Boulle's drawings for the work are in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

His royal commissions were numerous, as we learn both from the Comptes des B timents du Roi and from the correspondence of Louvois. Not only the most magnificent of French monarchs, but foreign princes and the great nobles and financiers of his own country crowded to him with commissions, and the mot of the abbé de Marolles, Boulle y lourne en ovale, has become a stock quotation in the literature of French cabinetmaking.

Ormolu (from French 'or moulu', signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze.The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold-coloured veneer known as 'gilt bronze'.

The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object.

No true ormolu was produced in France after around 1830 because legislation had outlawed the use of mercury. Therefore, other techniques were used instead but nothing surpasses the original mercury-firing ormolu method for sheer beauty and richness of colour. Electroplating is the most common modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt (also known as vermeil).

Tortoiseshell or tortoise shell 
is a material produced mainly from the shell of the hawksbill turtle, an endangered species. It was widely used until the 1970s in the manufacture of items such as combs, sunglasses, guitar picks and knitting needles. In 1973, the trade of tortoiseshell worldwide was banned under CITES.

Tortoiseshell was attractive to manufacturers and consumers because of its beautiful appearance and its durability, and its organic warmth against the skin. Piqué-work, jewellery made from tortoiseshell inlaid with precious metals in patterns or pictures, was made during the Victorian Era and was highly prized.




W215.0 x H118.0 x D50.0 cm



Date of manufacture





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