Exceedingly rare secretaire restored; one of four known to exist

This 300-year-old secretaire is thought to be one of only four known to exist in the world. 

Photo By WaterfordLive.com

A rare 300-year-old piece of furniture has been donated to the Irish Museum of Time. 

According to WaterfordLive, the eighteenth century secretaire was crafted in Dublin sometime around 1725-1730 by German asylum seeker John Kirkhoffer I. It is one of just four known to exist, with the other three held in museums in the United Kingdom and United States. 

“It will not only rhyme but also chime with history in the company of the early 18th-century Irish walnut and marquetry long case clocks already on display,” said David Boles, who donated the piece of the Museum of Time. 

Invaluable.com, an online auction marketplace, described the piece as an important Irish George I walnut and featherbanded, sycamore, cedar and marquetry 'architectural' secretaire cabinet.

Another example of the Irish-furniture style is in the collection of the UK-based V&A, a leading museum of art and design. "This bureau cabinet is reputed to have belonged to the Irish satirical novelist and cleric Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), the author of Gulliver's Travels," according to the Museum's website.

The museum's website said that while this history is uncertain, it is confident that the bureau itself is Irish, and "one of a small group of very similar bureau cabinets that were probably all made in Dublin by a cabinet-maker called John Kirkhoffer. His signature, with the date 1732, appears on a closely related example, now in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Waterford Treasures, which tells the history of Waterford, Ireland, through a series of museums include the Museum of Time, is encouraging students of Irish decorative arts to take on the task of studying the Waterford example to compare it with those in other international museums. 


Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Profile picture for user larryadams
About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).