11626 A FINELY FIGURED AMBOYNA LATE REGENCY LIBRARY TABLE English. Circa 1830. Measurements: Height: 28″ (71 cm); Width: 42″ (107 cm); Depth: 32 1/4″ ( 82 cm).
Of amboyna. The rectangular top with rounded corners above a frieze with a pair of drawers to one side and dummy drawers to the other, each with two circular drawer pulls, supported by a downswept triangular pylon base with chamfered edges. The whole resting on a triform plinth base raised on gadrooned bun feet.
This table is an unusually austere example of late Regency furniture design, eschewing the tendency toward embellishment or proud molding. The smooth chamfered triform base resting on a conforming plinth is more normally associated with a circular top, but in this instance the designer has opted for a nearly square rectangle, suggesting a maker who is deliberately reformulating proven late regency design in an experimental fashion.
The austere design was no doubt further chosen to set off the exceptional cuts of prized and finely grained amboyna wood. Amboyna is a burl wood named after the Island of Ambon of the Moluccas island chain in the East Indies, which was first known in Europe as a source of cloves and other spices. The wood rarely appeared on English furniture prior to the 1750s, when the first confirmed usage in England is recorded, but was one of the most desirable of all the cabinet woods employed in the early nineteenth century. It is a fragrant, hard and durable wood that takes a beautiful polish, making it expensive and one of the most highly, sought after of the burls, “much esteemed as a fancy or ornamental wood for cabinet-work.”1
A further testament to the exceptional nature of the table is that the craftsman has used fine mahogany as a substrate for the top in order to ensure that no movement or cracking to the precious amboyna veneer occurs.
1. Boulger, G S. Wood: A Manual of the Natural History and Industrial Applications of the Timbers of Commerce. London: E. Arnold, 1908. 126.