Andre-Charles Boulle (1642 - 1732) was the French cabinetmaker who is generally considered to be the preeminent artist in the field of marquetry. His fame in marquetry led to his name being given to a fashion of inlaying known as Boulle (or, in 19th-century Britain, Buhl work). His invention or method by which he beautified cabinet work by the introduction of foreign substances, was quite new. He worked in ebony, gradually improving his work by inlays and clever coverings with ornaments of brass and other metals. His great success was inlaid tortoiseshell, cut out and encrusted with arabesques, and ornaments of thin brass and white metal, many of which were elaborately engraved, as well as being inlaid. He was employed for many years at Versailles, where the mirrored walls, the floors of wood mosaic, the inlaid paneling and the marquetry furniture in the Cabinet du Dauphin were regarded as his most remarkable work. Not only the most magnificent of French monarchs, particularly Louis XIV, but foreign princes and the great nobles and financiers of his own country commissioned many pieces from him.

Although there are original "Boulles" that exist in many corners of the world, it is the "reproductions" from the late 18th and the 19th centuries made by fine craftsmen in both France and England that are seen more frequently today. Due to many factors, including age, inconsistent humidity, lack of care, etc. , many of these beautiful pieces are in need of restoration.

At Acacia, we can bring your Boulle back to life:

This boulle table, inlaid with brass and ebony, needed a lot of help, not just from us, but also from a leather restoration specialist!

When the table arrived in our shop, there was no brass on the top of the table. The ebony, however, was intact. Some of the brass had been saved in a paper bag, but the rest was missing.


We began the job by sorting out the brass from the bag and fixing it to the spot(s) where it had come unglued. Following that, we templated and cut the remaining missing brass pieces and glued them into place.


We also needed to provide the brass chasing (fine engraved lines which add decoration to the brass) to the new pieces which were manufactured. As well, we antiqued the new brass to match the old.

A general French Polish and beeswax to the whole piece brought out the contrast between the brass and the ebony and rendered it ready for our dealer customer to replace the leather and sell.

Here is an example of a Boulle that needed some TLC.

With an approximate age of 130 years, this Boulle had both tortoiseshell and brass inlay that had lifted, and, in some cases, fallen right off.
With the aid of magnification, each piece of inlay is meticulously refastened.

Every restoration story has a happy ending.........every piece of brass and tortoiseshell is in its proper place and all that is left to be done is deliver it to its delighted owner who is waiting to top off this beautiful piece with it's marble top.