This collector's cabinet was made for the eminent conchologist, John Gwyn Jeffreys (1809-1885) for his house in Devonshire Place, London. With its shell and coral-carved cornice and twin columns of glazed drawers, it was perfectly suited to house shells for the author of British Conchology, published between 1862 and 1869. He was the author of numerous papers on scientific subjects and his magnificent collection of European mollusca, which abounded in type specimens, was purchased two years before his death by the American government.
A Welshman by birth, Jeffreys moved to London in 1856 following his call to the bar. He remained in London for ten years before retiring to Ware Priory, Hertfordshire, which became a meeting-place for many British and foreign naturalists. Following the death of his wife in 1881 he moved back to London.
Although it is not known who made this bespoke cabinet for Jeffreys, it is likely that it was made by one of the leading London cabinet-makers from the second quarter of the 19th century such as Holland & Son, or Gillows.