Maker: Hill & Millard
Category: Campaign Furniture
Subcategory: Campaign Chests
A figured walnut, brass bound Secretaire Campaign Chest by Hill & Millard.
It was common with walnut military chests to use solid, straight grain wood to the carcase, which would take much more wear as it was slid in and out of its packing cases. The better, figured walnut was applied in book matched veneers to the drawer fronts as the show timber. What is unusual about this walnut chest is that the maker, Hill & Millard, painted figuring onto the solid walnut edges of the drawer dividers. When first done it would have hardly been noticeable. It is more so now due to the aging of the wood. This same method of painting the timber is evident to the walnut chest by the same maker, opposite.
The clever design of the secretaire, with its hidden drawers behind the hinged document carrier, was patented by Hill & Millard in January 1873. The document carrier is released by depressing a button accessed by opening the top right-hand drawer of the secretaire. This button also has additional security and can be locked by a slide to the underside of the top, accessed from a short drawer.
The use of walnut, a patent secretaire and a very good maker all add up to making this an exceptional campaign chest. It was likely to have been owned by a wealthy officer who could afford the best. Circa 1880.