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A set of twelve George III mahogany dining chairs, circa 1790

Sold for £11,780

Furniture, Rugs & Carpets

With three Fine Furniture and six Interiors auctions held annually the department handles the full spectrum of the market, and possesses the well-earned reputation for being one of the leading regional furniture salerooms in the country, with broad experience in both the UK and internationally.

The Fine Furniture auctions feature rare antique furniture selected to interest a global audience.

The Interiors auctions will appeal to buyers with a passion for interior decorating as well as those looking for unique vintage items.

From antique furniture for the connoisseur collector to decorative objects for the home in period style, we offer pieces from a wide age range and across all price points, which can be acquired more competitively when compared with furniture offered on the high street.

William & Mary kingwood and oyster veneered keyhole desk, circa 1690
89cm high, 103cm wide, 63.5cm deep
Est. £3,000-5,000 (+ fees)

A highlight from the forthcoming auction: Fine Furniture, Carpets and Works of Art | 5 September

This charming William & Mary kingwood and oyster veneered kneehole desk dates from circa 1690. Its rectangular top incorporates radiating oyster veneered elements and the hinged panel of the top opens to reveal the rosewood veneered interior which features the hinged fall front, a pigeon hole and an arrangement of three drawers. The recessed central cupboard beneath is flanked on each side by four drawers on turned bun feet.

Kingwood was the most expensive wood in use for general furniture making in the 17th century, and at this time was known as princes wood. Kingwood is dense and extremely hard and can be brought to a spectacular finish, however, because of its density it cannot easily be worked with hand tools. Kingwood is only availalble in small sizes as it comes from a small’ish tree, Dalbergia caerensis, from Brazil. Other woods from the same genus include rosewood, African blackwood and rosewood.

The rectangular top of the kingwood and oyster veneered keyhole desk

Oystering or oyster veneer is a decorative form of veneering, a type of parquetry. The technique uses thin slices of branches of wood or roots cut in cross-section, typically walnut, olive and kingwood, and less commonly laburnum, yew and crocus. Circular or oval pieces of the veneer are laid side by side to produce various decorative patterns. The shapes formed resemble an oyster shell, hence the technique became known as oyster veneering.

Oystering is likely to have been developed by English cabinet-makers in the 1660s straight after the Restoration of the monarchy and early oyster veneered cabinets were often in crocus or kingwood. A decade later, softer and cheaper woods such as olive and walnut were used for veneering and the fashion become widespread, extending to Holland around the mid-1670s.


Ben Brown, MRICS

Ben Brown, MRICS

Head of Furniture Department

Ashley Matthews

Ashley Matthews

Specialist; Interiors, Furniture & Clocks

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