This bureau-cabinet is attributed to the St Paul's Churchyard cabinet-maker John Coxed (d. 1718) who was established at The White Swan workshop in 1711. He was succeeded there in 1719 by his widow Grace Coxed and Thomas Woster, a relative by marriage of John Coxed. The workshop seems to have specialized in the making of bureaux and bureau-cabinets. Their partnership is often associated with a specialized technique in which furniture is veneered in maple or elm stained to produce a rich golden tone, possibly to resemble tortoiseshell or marble. The use of pewter or white metal inlay was often also used.
The process of creating this veneer is derived from two methods outlined in Stalker and Parker's Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing of 1688. The chosen veneer (often ash, elm or most commonly, maple), is stained yellow with Aqua fortis (nitric acid) and then rubbed with 'lampblack' (soot). The acid penetrates deeply into areas of soft grain which the lampblack colours richly, giving rise to a three-dimensional effect. The final stage is to pare back the surface until the desired contrast of light and dark is achieved. For a full discussion of the technique and many of the myths surrounding the fashion of stained ash, elm or maple veneering at this date, see A. Bowett, 'Myths of English Furniture History: Mulberry Wood Furniture by Coxed and Woster', Antique Collecting, October, 1998, pp. 32-35.
This bureau-cabinet with marble-like veneer, enriched with pewter line-inlay in the French manner, relates to one bearing the label of G. Coxed and T. Woster, illustrated in R. Edwards and P. Macquoid, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, rev. ed., 1954, vol. I, p. 138, figs. 33. Other labelled versions of this form are illustrated C. Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture: 1700-1840, London, 1996, pp. 154-158, figs. 235-236, 241-243 and 245.