SCANNAVINI PUZZLE CABINET

Cabinet on Stand

 

Secret hiding places in buildings and furniture were simply a matter of security in days before banks and modern safes; however this cabinet is exceptional in that it has was made in 1870 when both good banks and safes were available . It must have been constructed as an exhibition piece as well as for a recreational puzzle.

The outer casing is of walnut carved in stunning detail: - The overhanging cornice above a frieze with carved high relief honeysuckle, leaf and berry decoration on a stippled ground. The main panels all profusely carved in high relief with Renaissance style masks, grotesques, floral motifs and two tablets inscribed 'ANNO DMNI' 'MDCCCLXX'.

 

 

 

 

Each side has a central carved tablet with scenes of fertility and plenty. The four corners are similarly decorated uprights with Corinthian capitals, above an inverted breakfront frieze, all carved with foliate and floral sprays, fruit, classical scenes and portrait medallions

The base of each of the corner columns has two cartouches carved with words in Latin. The eight inscriptions appear to make up the sentence: QVAE MIHI CREDIDERIS SERABABO FIDELITER NEC QVISQVAM ERIPIET NICI PRIVIS CONFRECERIT: This slightly obscure Latin translates as 'Whatever you will have entrusted to me I will guard faithfully and nobody can take unless he shall have first solved it'. The plinth carved 'GIOACCHINO SCANNAVINI INV. SCUL.

 

When the key and keyhole have been found:

The fall front unlocks to reveal an architectural facade of an arched panel door surrounded by tessellated brick-work concealing a variety of secret drawers all with cunning puzzle release mechanisms, at some stage the central door can be opened to reveal a metal "safe". A secret catch allows this to roll forward on metal "tram lines".

The puzzle is not over as the "Safe" is really another puzzle box.

 

This strip of wood was used as the backstop to one of the drawers.
With English eyes we read this as "De Rocchi ??????? ???? 1869"
However one of our Italian visitors says he reads it as
"DESCOCCHI ILDEBRANDO 1869"

Presumably it is the name and/or place of the maker of the interior part of the cabinet.
If you can help us identify him or GIOACCHINO SCANNAVINI please contact us.

Any help researching this remarkable puzzle cabinet will be very welcome.


Size:

The cabinet 69cm. wide, 52cm. deep, 94cm. high.
The stand 87cm. wide, 70cm. deep, 75cm. high

This cabinet appeared on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow in 1996 at Michelham Priory, Sussex. The clip was one of four selected for their "Viewer's Choice - Bizarre Finds" selection at the end of 2002 and was chosen for the 25th Anniversary Roadshow broadcast in the UK on 16th March 2003.
It also appeared together with our Rebus watercolour panels in September 2006 on one of four special programmes "The Roadshow's Greatest Finds".

2004