Strong boxes ensured the safe deposit of valuables such as cash and jewelry at the end of the seventeenth century. While boxes were found throughout Europe at this period, it is often thought that they were Flemish in origin. Similar strong boxes veneered with kingwood or 'prince's wood' were supplied for the Duke of Lauderdale at Ham House, Surrey and appear in the inventories of 1677 and 1683. The 1683 inventory of the Duchess's Bedchamber lists 'Two Strong boxes & one box wth an extraordinary Lock; Three frames to the boxes'. The Ham House strongbox with the elaborate locking mechanism appears to be of the precise design as this strong box and is illustrated on its replaced early Georgian stand in 'Ham House: The Inventories of 1677, 1679 and 1683', Furniture History, 1980, fig.68.
While the strong boxes seem to have been acquired without stands, the stands were apparently made to support these objects. This stand is certainly original as it features the unusual pullout slides in the frieze to support the lid of the box when opened. The design of the stand with its acanthus-wrapped legs, scroll toes and deep frieze centered by putti may be found, primarily to support imported lacquer cabinets. One such stand bearing an incised lacquer cabinet was acquired for Ham House between 1679 and 1683 and is illustrated op.cit., fig.104. Another cabinet on similar stand was commissioned by Sir James Dick from a London maker for his home, Prestonfield House, Edinburgh in 1688-9, and sold Lyon and Turnbull, Edinburgh, 12 December 2003. A further example of this form with Japanese lacquer cabinet is illustrated in M. Jourdain and R.S. Jenyns, Chinese Export Art in the Eighteenth Century, Suffolk, 1950, p.89, fig.31.
ELIHU YALE AND DUDLEY NORTH PROVENANCE
This strong box-on-stand once formed part of the collection of Elihu Yale (1648-1720), one-time Governor of Madras and a Governor of the East India Company. The sale of objects from his collection of Eastern lacquer and works of art provided funds for what is now Yale University in New Haven. A set of four Soho tapestries by John Vanderbank depicting Indo-Chinese subjects are thought to have been commissioned by Elihu Yale upon his return from the East Indies in 1692. The tapestries were sold by the Rt. Hon the Earl of Guilford, Sotheby's, London, 18 July 1924.
This object was inherited by the eldest daughter of Elihu Yale who married Dudley North of Glemham Hall, Suffolk. North was the son of a City of London magnate who acquired and extensively altered Glemham in 1700-25 but the exact date of the work is not clear. Very good surviving furniture of circa 1710-15, such as the suite of gesso seat-furniture and a gesso side table in the Victoria and Albert Museum suggests that some of the work was complete by that date in order for it to be furnished (illustrated in H. Avray Tipping, English Homes, period IV, vol.I, p.410).
The strong box-on-stand remained at Glemham until the early 20th century and possibly until the house was sold in 1923. In the 19th century Charlotte Maria, Lady North, wife of the 6th Earl of Guilford married her second husband Major A.G. Dickson upon the 6th Earl's death. She remained at Glemham with her son Mr. R. Eden Dickson, later of Woodbridge, Suffolk. This strong box-on-stand appears in a photograph of the Hall at Glemham as published in Country Life in January 1910 (see above). Of note, a number of pieces from the Charlotte Maria, Lady North and R. Eden Dickson collection are illustrated in Percy Macquoid's series entitled A History of English Furniture (The Age of Walnut, The Age of Mahogany and The Age of Satinwood), published 1905-1908. Fine and decorative arts from the collection were sold in sales conducted by Sotheby's London in 1945. According to the 1954 catalogue entry, this cabinet 'passed to the present owner' through Eden Dickson.