Antique Bureau

Oak Bureau Furniture

Mr. Hill-Cutler was a leading London antique dealer who, in 1929 came into possession of the piece of furniture we know today as "Kidd's Bureau". The piece of furniture was described by Hill-Cutler as an American made heavy 17th Century oak bureau bearing a much worn brass plate inscribed with the words "Captain William Kidd Adventure Galley 1669". Aware of Palmer's interest in such objects, he immediately contacted him and invited his inspection and appraisal. Palmer was told the previous owners came from London but was given no more information to demonstrate provenance. During the inspection, in the presence of Hill-Cutler, Palmer noticed that one of the brass runners that held the writing flap was loose. Upon closer examination he found the brass runner was similarly engraved as the brass plate. He also noticed that the end of the runner was sealed with wax of the type twine makers used to waterproof their twine. After carefully removing the wax, he discovered a tightly coiled piece of parchment inside the runner. The velum had yellowed with age and contained part of a legal document containing the words "of me Sarah" and the initial "W" which was bleeding off the edge of the parchment. More importantly it also contained the outline sketch of an island with the initials "WK" and the date "1669". According to George Edmunds, photographs of the bureau were shown to a leading antiques expert (he doesn't name him) and the Victoria & Albert Museum furniture expert at some stage (he doesn't say when). They concluded that the style of the bureau could not date before 1740??.

So here we have our first set of anomalies. The brass plate on the bureau is inscribed with the date 1669 and the name Adventure Galley. The velum also contains the name Sarah and the date 1669. Yet in 1669, Kidd would have been in his mid-twenties and certainly not a Captain, for we know he didn't receive his first command until he reached his mid-forties in 1689. He did not meet Sarah until 1691 (Sarah was a popular name of the times, so could be referring to an entirely different Sarah) and did not take command of the Adventure Galley until 1695/6. If someone really wanted to conceal a map inside a brass runner ~ would he really announce the fact by inscribing the outside of the runner? Unless of course the person who placed the parchment inside the runner WANTED it to be found! Some researchers have tried to explain this glaring anomaly away by proposing that Kidd drew the map of the island in 1699 as he remembered it 30 years earlier in 1669, and that he commanded a ship called Adventure Galley in 1669 and named THE Adventure Galley after his original ship??? Even if you accept this far fetched unqualified explanation, it still does not explain why the brass plate on the bureau face is inscribed the way it is. There must also be grave concerns over the age and provenance of the bureau ~ as an item of furniture. I also find it inconceivable the originator of the sketch would allow his written text to bleed off the edge of the parchment in the way it has. The initials "WK" and the date "1669" appear to me (even though I am not a hand writing expert) to have been written by a different hand, as a later addition. There are even dots or full stops shown after the initials and the date "1669". This to me smacks of 20th century correctness. I have never ever seen 17th century documents with punctuation as shown. If anything, 17th century documents are noted more for their lack of punctuation.

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