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William and Mary Kingwood or ‘Princes Wood’ Oyster Table Box

Circa 1690. England

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William and Mary Kingwood or ‘Princes Wood’ Oyster Table Box, Circa 1690. England

 The chest was originally designed to store tableware and was given the apt name ‘table box’.

 The top opens on a hinge revealing a large space covered in silk velvet. The drawers are also lined in silk velvet. The chest is extremely rare and from the collective we have only been able to locate three examples in existence. 
The attribution to the London cabinetmaker ‘Thomas Pistor’ is based on a group of pieces identified and previously with W.R. Harvey including two kingwood cabinets and a desk to which the table box offered here is clearly part of the same group. There were, in fact, two cabinetmakers called Thomas Pistor, father and son, working for a period at the same time but at different premises. One or both are known to have made furniture of quality for Levens Hall. 

From the 4-18 August 1950 Country Life ran a series of articles featuring what was then the recently rebuilt Buxted Park, a house reconstructed by the architect Basil Lonides following a serious fire and in one of the illustrations a kingwood escritoire is visible. Subsequently, Christopher Gilbert commented in The ‘Dictionary of Marked London Furniture’, Leeds, 1996, p.44 that a “highly important kingwood fall-front cabinet inscribed ‘Thomas Pistor, Ludgate Hill, London’, formerly owned by the Hon. Basil Lonides, unfortunately, remains untraced. It was amongst the Buxted Park furniture at Sotheby’s, 25 September 1963, lot 168 (withdrawn)…”. The whereabouts of this escritoire remain unknown and further details of how the pieces are marked remain uncertain. 

The overall profile and proportions of the Buxted escritoire conform to that of the table-box offered here and the W. R. Harvey cabinets as does the pattern of oysters visible on the frieze, and there is a strikingly similar large radiating circular pattern. It is undoubtedly the same maker responsible for the table-box offered here and for the two W.R. Harvey cabinets. There is an olive oyster example illustrated in ‘Woods In British Furniture Making 1400-1900’, by Adam Bowett, page 174, private collection.

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