An Antique 18th Century Ivory Indian Model of a Bureau Cabinet

H: 33.75 in / 86 cm  |  W: 25 in / 64 cm  |  D: 12.25 in / 31 cm


A Remarkable 18th Century Indian Model of a Bureau Cabinet

The case work is constructed in sandalwood, veneered with engraved ivory, with lac highlights, and, most unusually, English Hall Marked silver hinges, locks and pulls, London, dated to 1791/2 made by Edward Robinson & Thomas Phipps of 40 Gutter Lane, Cheapside.
Rising from shaped bracket feet, with a long frieze drawer; over a hinged drop front, supported by extensible lopers; the interior of the lower section is fitted with a central situated pigeon hole flanked by two ‘secret’ sliding compartments, and two banks of three drawers; and above, an arrangement of ‘pigeon holes’ and three banks of three drawers, and a upper long drawer enclosed by two lockable blind fielded panel double doors with Ionic ivory fluted columns. The upper cornice has a faux dentil form moulding. The finely drawn engraved decoration comprises flowers, foliates, European views, and ‘Lover’s Knots’.
Vizagapatam, India, circa 1790


Vizagapatam, a port city situated on the northern stretches of the Coromandel Coast, was visited regularly by Europeans, and the native Kamsali caste allied their ivory cutting and working skills to Occidental furniture forms to provide articles for sale as ‘tourist souvenirs’.

James Grant’s ‘Political Survey of the Northern Circars’ published in 1786, discuss the ‘high quality’ of the local work, of inlaid and engraved ivory. Later, Ackermann’s ‘Repository of the Arts’, 1810 issue, discusses the ‘excellence of the workmanship’.

Phipps (d.1823) and Robinson (d.1816) recorded items include small household articles, strainers, vinaigrettes inert alia.

40 Gutter Lane is in the shadow of St Paul’s cathedral, and is now the site for the headquarters of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, whose guild has been extant since the 12th Century.


Amin Jaffer’s books, ‘Furniture from British India and Ceylon’ and ‘Luxury Goods from India’ both published by the Victoria & Albert Museum show comparable Vizagapatam Bureau Cabinets.

REF No. 8470

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