Small chests of drawers made from exotic materials and originating in India, were prized by European collectors in the 17th and 18th centuries, and could be acquired in Europe through Dutch, British, and Portuguese traders.
The present lot descended in the family of Thomas Shillitoe, the noted Quaker missionary and temperance campaigner. Shillitoe worked hard and travelled widely to improve conditions endured by the poor and the imprisoned. From 1820, he travelled in Europe and spent the winter of 1824-5 in St Petersburg where he twice met with the Emperor Alexander. He describes these meetings in his Journal, but while he refers to a 'volume of the New Testament, given me by the emperor, with his own signature in it', there is no mention of the chest (Thomas Shillitoe, Journal of The Life, Labours, and Travels of Thomas Shillitoe, London, 1839, vol.II, pp.101-115). The chest may just have been acquired or presented to Shillitoe in one of the many European cites he visited en route.