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Antique WB605: Large military style brass bound solid mahogany writing box of dovetail construction Circa 1810

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Description: 

Ref: WB605: Large military style brass bound solid mahogany writing box of dovetail construction with countersunk brass handles a side document drawer  and secret drawers beneath the pen tray  concealed behind a sprung panel. The box retains its original green baize writing surface.  Beneath the surface there are compartments for  keeping papers. Unusually there is a  tooled leather document wallet, Circa 1810.  

Origin: UK ;  Circa:  1810; Materials:  mahogany, brass.

Size: 55.8 cm wide by 26.3 cm by 17 cm:  22  inches wide by 10.4   inches by 6.7  inches.

Condition: good overall original; working lock and key; see images.

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Ref: WB605: Large military style brass bound solid mahogany writing box of dovetail construction with countersunk brass handles a side document drawer  and secret drawers beneath the pen tray  concealed behind a sprung panel. The box retains its original green baize writing surface.  Beneath the surface there are compartments for  keeping papers. Unusually there is a  tooled leather document wallet, Circa 1810.    Enlarge Picture

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The box retains its original  green baize writing surface 

 

Above the slope 

 

Extract: Choosing and Making the right joints by Tage Frid.

Fine Woodworking Techniques 1978 Taunton Press inc. ISBN: 0918804027

This image is courtesy of Fine Woodworking Techniques 1978 Taunton Press inc. ISBN: 0918804027

You can order the Fine Woodworking Techniques from Amazon by clicking one of the links below:

 

 

The box is constructed  with "full blind" dovetail joints. 

This is a double blind sometimes called a "full blind" dovetail joint.

The joint is strengthened with a piece of brass. These are sometimes cast and sometimes cut from sheet. At this date the holding screws, as here, are mostly iron or steel and turned to a screw which would hold itself. A hole would first have to be drilled. The surface would then be flattened. These screws look as if they have never moved since they were put in.

It is not easy to move these screws whose slots are almost never in the center and have ground to be flat with the brass.

The joint is visually very different to a simple miter. A miter joint which glues end grain wood to end grain wood is much weaker and would not have survived the rigors of travel or 200 years.

Dovetail joints:

The dovetail joint is one of the wonders of woodwork. In the full blind none of the careful work is visible. If the joint is simply mitered it will not survive atmospheric change. A mitered joint is end grain to end grain. The glue soaks in, becomes dry and brittle and falls apart.

The dovetail joint enables side grain to be glued to side grain. These joints would hold together without glue!

It is the true proof of these dovetail joints made by craftsmen 200 years ago that their joints are as they made them.

This image is courtesy of Fine Woodworking Techniques 1978 Taunton Press inc. ISBN: 0918804027

 

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The brass is structural and fastened to the box with iron screws.

The box is made from solid mahogany and constructed with dovetail joints.

The handles are strong enough to lift the box.

This is the sort of box that would have accompanied officers  and travelers in the early 19th C.

The lock works and has its key.

 These boxes were designed to taken as a traveling  desk and had to be built to survive  a hard life.

 

 There is a  rounded bead run into the top. The side handles are countersunk and  

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 At this date the brass is held in place by counter sunk steel screws .

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The  marking line for the hand cut dovetail is still visible. This version of the dovetail is called a  "Half Blind".

 

An unusual feature of this box is the tooled leather document wallet

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There are secret drawers under the pen compartment concealed behind a sprung flap released by  pressing the wall of the compartment under the pen tray .

 

 The mechanism is concealed beneath a sloping   piece of wood
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Detail of the secret drawer mechanism.

 In this image the sloping surface  has been removed to reveal the mechanism. There  is a rod of wood connecting the division  to the  sprung brass  catch. The catch engages with the brass plate  inlaid into the panel.

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Detail of the panel which conceals the secret drawers. 

The holes  are  to accommodate the turned bone pulls on the drawers. 

The steel spring  opens the flap when the catch is released.

 

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All text and images and linked images are 1999-2011 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly. If you require any further information on permitted use, or a licence to republish any material, email us at copyright@hygra.com