Tasmanian huon pine chest of serpentine outline with a deep centre drawer with a carved front, four small drawers to each side, three large graduated drawers and carved pilasters and corbels
Australia, Circa 1860, 140cm high, 115cm wide, 58cm deep
fall front. Furniture with a hinged flap, usually associated with desks and secretaires, that opens or 'falls' to provide a flat writing surface. The flap may be supported by chains or brass quadrants and rest on wooden supports or runners, known as lopers, that pull out from a recess in either side of the piece. The interior of a fall-front desk is usually fitted with small drawers and pigeonholes.
corbel. An architectural term for a support for a projecting bracket, ostensibly supporting a beam or horizontal feature, but used in bookcases, sideboards and chests as a decorative element. Corbels are often carved with acanthus or other scrolling decoration.
serpentine. Resembling a serpent, in the form of an elongated 'S'. A serpentine front is similar to a bow front, except that the curve is shallow at each end, swelling towards the middle. The term presumably derives from its similarity to a moving snake or serpent. Serpentine fronts are usually veneered, with the carcase either being cut and shaped from a solid piece of timber, or built in the 'brick' method.
huon pine. Named after the Frenchman who discovered the Huon River in Tasmania, it is an extremely slow growing and long living tree. Huon pine is native to Tasmania, and it can grow to an age of 3,000 years or more. The wood contains oil that retards the growth of fungi, hence its early popularity in ship-building in convict-era Tasmania. The timber is a warm yellow colour, finely grained, and was popular for household furniture in the Victorian era. Interestingly, much Huon pine furniture was made in South Australia. Huon pine is a protected species and only limited quantities are available nowadays, for craftsmen to manufacture small items such as platters, sculptures and other decorative objects.
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