George II mahogany bureau cabinet bookcase


English mahogany bureau cabinet, bookcase / secretary with secret compartments.
George II period, ca 1750.

Height: 8’4″
Width: 4′
Depth: 24″

Stock: BHA928

Contact the team


An impressive mahogany bureau cabinet / bookcase / secretary*, with secret compartments. In mahogany and parcel gilt.
In the manner of Giles Grendey (1693-1780).
Mid-18th century, George II period.

This English mahogany bureau cabinet displays fine, deep rich colour and superb surface patination.

The top section with a broken-arch pediment and dentil cornice. The frieze well carved with Gothic arcaded blind fretwork. Centred by a later urn-shaped finial.

The cabinet with two carved parcel-gilt gesso bordered ogee shaped doors. Old but later mirror plates enclosing a fitted interior with eight drawers and adjustable shelves.

The cleated fall, with its original lock, now fitted with a wine red, gilt-tooled writing surface revealing an exceptionally high quality arrangement of canopied drawers and pigeon holes. The interior is centred by an arched, architectural over door, which pulls out as a secret drawer. The floor within the central door also slides forward revealing a secret recess.

Below is an arrangement of three long and three short cockbeaded drawers. The outer short drawers, unusually fitted with sliding writing surfaces with matching wine red gilt-tooled leather, serve as supports to the hinged fall. All set with the original swan-neck brass mounts and key escutcheons. All in high quality mahogany and oak lined throughout. It is raised on ogee bracket feet (which are apparently original).

The ‘Cabinet-Maker and Chair-Maker’ Giles Grendey was described in 1740 as ”A great Dealer in the Cabinet Way”. He carried out a considerable export trade from Aylesbury House in St. John’s Square, London. He was appointed Upper Warden of the Joiner’s Company in 1747 and it’s Master in 1766. His son-in-law, John Cobb, was granted a court appointment as cabinet-maker to George III.

Records of Grendey’s export business have never been doubted. A fire that badly damaged his workshop in 1731 also destroyed furniture to the value of £1,000, that he ‘had pack’d for Exportation against the next Morning’. It is a tantalizing possibility that the destroyed export furniture was intended for Spain and that the existing Lazcano suite is in fact its replacement.

These sophisticated and Classic architectural bureau cabinet/ bookcases are reminiscent of some of William Kent’s earlier designs (1685-1748).

Sothebys offered an almost identical bureau cabinet in the Devenish Collection sale, 24th April 2008, lot 26 est. USD $20,000-30,000.

Vis: S. Stuart ‘Gillows of Lancaster and London, 1730-1840’ (2008) vol. II, p. 61, pl. 607.
Percy Macquoid’s ‘History of English Furniture, vol. III, The Age of Mahogany’, pl. 7.

See a drawing of a chimney piece surround in the Victoria & Albert Museum showing similarities in the treatment of a pediment. (Gallery location: Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case A, shelf 156, Museum no. 208.)

*Nb. An antique bureau cabinet is often referred to as a ”secretary” in the US.