Tortoiseshell cabinet

This cabinet is veneered with tortoiseshell panels backed with gold leaf. The sides and corners are bound with thin ivory border with ebony stringing. There is an arrangement of drawers around the central square drawer inside it. The drop front door has an engraved silver escutcheon lock and fish-shaped corner mounts and handles to the sides.Objects made of tortoiseshell attracted great admiration when they were first imported to Europe from India. The use of the material as decorative element in furniture can be traced to ancient Rome. The hard, mottled outer layer of the carapace of the sea turtle is transformed into thin translucent plaques through a heating process and these plaques are then molded into desired shapes and used as veneers. High polishing further enhances the colour and translucency of the tortoiseshell.