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22nd January 2015

Cabinets of Curiosity – and size.

We’re delighted to receive pictures of the “Captain Cook Cabinet” that we salvaged in the summer (2014) at The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, now installed at its new home in Berlin.

The mahogany monster – it is 7metres long (23ft) – had sat for over a century in the prime spot on the first floor mezzanine at the Pitt Rivers Museum. It housed the priceless artefacts that Captain James Cook (1724-79 ) had brought back from both his first (1768-71) and second (1772-5) expeditions: feather head-dresses, maces and jewellery etc. from the various indigenous tribes that he encountered in the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and from, of course, his biggest discovery: Australia.

The Captain Cook Museum Cabinet, ex Pitt Rivers, now in Berlin

The Captain Cook Museum Cabinet, ex Pitt Rivers, now in Berlin

Pitt Rivers Museum is loved by all visitors and famed for its ethnographic collection. Having secured a grant from the DCMS/Wolfson Fund and the Friends of the Pitt Rivers to re-house these revered objects in a replacement state-of-the-art climate controlled vitrine; they were not entirely sure how such a huge cabinet was going to be removed from the first floor mezzanine and be extracted from the building. In terms of access, much had changed in one hundred years. Wisely, the museum opted to sell it – but with the proviso that the buyer removes it. We like a challenge.

The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford in 1901 on the occasion of the arrival of the totem pole. The cabinet can be seen on the first floor balcony.

The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford in 1901 on the occasion of the arrival of the totem pole. The cabinet can be seen on the first floor balcony. Perhaps it had just arrived too as it appears empty.

With a bit of careful planning we got the cabinet dis-mantled and, by marching the pieces along corridors and through an office window, we got it all onto a high rear balcony of the museum. We only just avoided having to make cuts in the mahogany cornice and plinth – at one tight corner we found we could bend the seven metre long pieces and get them round! The crane on our lorry, with the extension arm, was just long enough to reach the balcony. It all went smoothly.

The next day we got straight on with re-building it at LASSCO Three Pigeons.

And the following day we received a serendipitous telephone call: “We’re working on the refurbishment of our flagship store in Berlin and we are looking for a huge mahogany museum cabinet for the Gentlemen’s Department on the ground floor. It needs to be about 7 metres long”.

Within two weeks the cabinet was in Amsterdam where it was renovated, adapted with a hanging system and sent on to Germany. We greatly enjoyed working with Tommy Hilfiger towards their project and we think this huge cabinet looks amazing in its new home.

If you have a similar retail project – or the need to house a library in magnificent glazed oak bookcases, you might be interested in these that we salvaged from the Caird Library at The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

***

The next implausibly large cabinet that we have for sale, just built at LASSCO Three Pigeons, also comes with an interesting history. We salvaged it from Kensington Palace where it was installed for the display of Princess Diana’s dresses. It is enormous (you could fit a car in it!). The tawdry tale of what happened to the dresses after they were removed from the Icon Cabinet and toured the world is expanded upon here. It isn’t what you’d expect!

The Icon Cabinet, from Kensington Palace

The Icon Cabinet, from Kensington Palace

We are currently in negotiation with more museums concerning the dispersal of yet more museum cabinets of all formats – let us know at 3pigeons@lassco.co.uk  if you have any Cabinet requirements of any size.

AR

Our thanks to Tommy Hilfiger for permission to use the first picture.


About Lassco

Established in London's East End, LASSCO has dealt in reclamation and salvage since 1979. Bridging the gap between the demolition trade and architectural design, we connect customers with rescued relics that make for fascinating interiors. Our shops and yards also provide the back drop for unique venue hire and dining experiences.

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