Our Collection

Portuguese Colonial Desk Box

18th century

An exceptional, beautiful Portuguese colonial desk box or so called contador. It has a square form mahogany carcass of dovetailed construction, intricately detailed and richly decorated with brass inlay and ebony mouldings. The side panels are adorned with brass carrying handles against an open work back plate. The drop front opens to reveal an interior fitted with six short drawers above one long drawer each with the original rosettes handles and all constructed with hand cut dovetail joinery.

The inlay work on the top and the front features paired dragons with striped bodies and spotted tails, surrounded by scroll borders with confronting birds that have been identified as the heraldic eagles of Goa, or the mythological Jatayu, king of the vultures in the Ramayana (Jaffer 2002, p.57).

The interior front has a centre panel with a rosette medallion framed by a foliate band border.

A number of comparable seventeenth-century inlaid pieces include a cabinet in the Victoria and Albert Museum (ibid. p.56), a chest in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon (Bordeaux 1998, p.45, fig.6) and a scribe’s box in a private collection in Portugal (Dias 2002, p.60).

The contador is in good condition and has been lovingly restored and finished to its former glory using a traditional form of French polishing and waxing.

It is an exceptionally rare find and we are proud we can present it to you.

Find out more about The Portuguese Colonial Contador.

This box has been sold. Please keep checking our website as we may add a simlar piece.


Portuguese colonial India
H: 37 cm W: 50 cm D: 34 cm
H: 14 ½” W: 19 ½” D: 13”

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