The King Cabinet / Bookcase, National Gallery Canberra

I negotiated the purchase of the cabinet from ‘King’ family descendants, with the help of Ron Radford, the best of the National Gallery Directors who was badly let down by the Board.

A small bespoke Travelling Secretaire Bookcase with four draw chest under dismantles for use as three separate items of furniture, a chest of drawers, standing bookcase and a secretaire for use on board ship or in the field. Made by Lawrence Butler in the Sydney Lumberyard, circa 1805/6, as per documents previously supplied.

Carcase – cedar
Drawer linings – cedar
Dust shelves – cedar
Sides – Australian Rosewood
Cock beadings – Baleen
Back boards – cedar
Handles – original
Drawer and door fronts – veneered in Casuarina

For discussion of these timbers see The Art of the Cabinetmaker, Part I, pp 54 & 55, by J. B. Hawkins

Dimensions overall:
Height 66 ½ inches
Width 31 inches
Depth 28 inches open

Dimensions separately:
Height 28 ¾ inches
Width 29 inches
Depth 10 ¼ inches

 Height 8 ½ inches
Width 29 ¾ inches
Depth 19 ¼ inches when opened 28 inches

The chest of drawers:
Height 29 ¾ inches
Width 29 ¾ inches
Depth 19 ¼ inches

Locks replaced, key hole escutcheons to chest of drawers replaced, door strip to upper bookcase possibly replaced

The Governor of New South Wales, Phillip Gidley King (1758-1808) commissioned the desk from Lawrence Butler in the Sydney Lumber Yard in 1805 & 1806 between the date of the Battle of Trafalgar 21 October 1805, as possibly indicated by the black, mourning baleen stringing and delivery before  his intended departure from the Colony on 15th August 1806.

Taken to England in 1807 with his family where King died in 1808.

Returned to Sydney with his widow Anna Josepha King, died 26th July 1844 at Parramatta whilst living with her daughter AMM (nee King) at “The Vineyard” Parramatta.

To Anna Maria Macarthur (1793-1844) wife of Hannibal Macarthur and daughter of  Phillip Gidley King and Anna Josepha King.

To her son, George Fairfowl Macarthur, 1825-1890.

By gift to his sister, Elizabeth (nee Macarthur) (1815-1899) sister of the above, then married to Phillip Gidley King (1817-1904).

To their son, George Bartholomew Gidley King (1846-1910) “Banksia” Double Bay.

To his daughter, Mary Pearl King married Thomas Leslie Willsallen.

To their son Michael Willsallen, “The Chase” Moss Vale.

To his son Tony Willsallen “Dunolly” Harden, New South Wales.