Picture This XIII


A rare Charles II cocus-oyster-veneered cabinet-on-stand, circa 1670. (Mallett)

Case furniture with bold chiaroscuro surfaces (comprising wood and tortoiseshell veneer, marquetry, parquetry and painted finishes) was popular during the last three decades of the seventeenth-century.

Some view the practice as distasteful; some say it’s “gilding the lily”. It tells me the cabinetmakers and patrons possessed humour. I still chuckle every time I walk along the corridor towards the William and Mary tortoiseshell chest of drawers.

I look forward to the next opportunity when I can use a piece of furniture as a canvas to create a lively and provocative picture.

Jack Plane


About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Antiques, Picture This and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Picture This XIII

  1. This piece is nothing short of astonishing, thanks for posting it!!


  2. Joe says:

    I’m guessing the oyster veneer on the flat surfaces, such as the doors, would be fitted together like a jig-ssaw puzzle as hey are glued down. But the moulding and moulded edges…would they be thicker, over 1/4″ and applied/built up, then planed and scraped as on your W&M Walnut Chest of Drawers?


    • Jack Plane says:

      Yes, taking the cabinet above, the pattern on the doors begins at the middle of the doors’ flying edges. The oysters are cut and fitted as required to create the radiating pattern.

      I made a walnut tea table with oyster veneers that radiated out from the centre back.

      Walnut oyster tea table

      The mouldings would indeed be made up as the crossgrain mouldings I have made for several William and Mary case pieces.

      Unusually, the cornice in this case uses a single facing of cocus, though the substrate may still comprise two or three individual oak or pine sections. The cornice and cushion mouldings would likely be faced with up to 1/4″ (6.4mm) thick cocus. The facings on the waist mouldings could be as thin as 1/8″ (3.2mm).



  3. D.B. Laney says:

    I share your belief that a sense of humor is a treasure, indeed. Some people just have bigger treasures than others. That said, I’d like to know a little more about the table above. You are a tricky devil, Mr. Plane. Just when I think I’ve seen it “all”, you pull something out of you kit that stirs curiosity and imagination. Such a tempter, you are, Sir. If there’s more about this table, please share it with “your brothers (and sisters) in chips”. Good on ye.

    Regards, Dennis Laney


  4. LD says:

    The aforementioned tea table should have taken top honors in the Working With Wood show (2009). If there is a suitable event to enter (i.e. not run by descendants of the Harmonic Society) it would be nice to see it gain the formal recognition it deserves.


  5. Tim Raleigh says:

    Unfortunately some find the Irish sense of humor disrespectful…that makes it even more amusing.


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