Collectors cabinet also known as monetiere or coin cabinet
The central door in the form of aedicule has two spiral columns and a niche containing a figure of Athena goddess, above a gilded bronze image of her padre Zeus. On both sides, five drawers with the upper one halved. Internally, there are five drawers hidden from the door with a marble front insert and lion head knobs.
The door that conceals the drawers is internally decorated with light wood inserts that form geometric figures with a rhombus figure inside; the same geometric motif is repeated on the two sides of the coin cabinet.
A beautiful chiselled iron lock with floral motifs completes the door.
The cabinet is richly decorated with excellent quality bronzes, ebony wood for the profiles and frames of the furniture and ivory. The ivory inserts are visible on the aedicula, on the upper part of the cabinet, under the pinnacles and within the internal drawers and around the rectangular perimeter of the marbles.
There are two handles for carrying the cabinet of beautiful quality on both sides. The upper part is finished with a bronze balustrade interrupted by excellent vase pinnacles near the uprights.
The cabinet stands on a later basement, with three metal gilded panelled drawers on the front and veneered inserts of olive wood on sides and front, resting on onion-shaped feet.
The overall quality of the furniture is superb, such as the marble drawers hidden by the front panel, as well as the beautiful bronzes that adorn this monetiere. This piece of furniture with a strong architectural setting represents the works of cabinets made in Naples during the 17th century.
History of the Italian Monetiere and the use of tortoiseshell
By Monetiere, we mean a piece of furniture with drawers and doors, specially created to hold coins, medals, documents, small collectables, jewels. The use of furniture becomes significant with the rooms of wonders, Wunderkammer, a typical phenomenon of the sixteenth century, which, however, has its roots in the Middle Ages. It then developed throughout the seventeenth century, feeding on the baroque grandeur, and lasted until the eighteenth century, favoured by the love for scientific curiosities typical of the Enlightenment, where the cabinet is particularly widespread, in which the most precious contents are placed, becoming, thanks to this prestigious function, the furniture par excellence of every studio, as precious in its workmanship as its content.
Over the centuries, in Italy as in the rest of Europe, the cabinet left the closed context of the studio to become more and more a representative piece of furniture, meuble de parade et d’apparad aimed at expressing the political and dynastic interests of European rulers and often used as a prestigious gift among rulers.
The best artists of the time are called to take care of its creation. The materials used are the richest and most varied, with the sole intention of creating something excellent and able to amaze every time.
In the context of this search for the most precious and rare materials, beginning from the 1640s, the use of tortoiseshell became more and more frequent. This is a very prized material, capable of creating an effect of great preciousness by shining bright against the black of the ebonized wood, and it used to be easily available in the Spanish colonies.
- González-Palacios, The temple of taste. The decorative arts in Italy between classicism and baroque, II, Rome and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Milan 1984, p. 223;
- Riccardi Cubitt, Collectible furniture. Stipi and Studioli over the centuries, Milan 1993, pp. 10-12 and 87-89
- Colle, The baroque furniture in Italy, Milan 2000, pp. 66-67; G. Baffi, Neapolitan furniture in history and furnishings, from 1700 to 1830, Portici 2011, pp. 14-15