When discussing this with some like-minded friends, it was suggested that we look into reliquaries of the Catholic Church. Not only might they have organized relics in some sort of drawer system, but how the relic fit into a larger item, such as a cross, might reveal at least some early form of drawer.
Just a thought...
In Magical Service,
MUCH GOOD STUFF SNIPPED AS POSTED PREVIOUSLY
I have just restored and repaired a silver-embellished, wooden, Reliquary Cross containing what purports to be a fragment of the True Cross.
To repair the
woodwork, I had to remove the sealed, silver, glazed "capsule reliquary" which is situated at the junction of the upright and the arms.
From the Seal, and from the microscopic writing inside the capsule - and according to our Catholic Dean of Jersey, Canon Nicholas France, SJ, - the whole object originates from "official" Vatican sources - and may have been a Papal Gift to the newly-built Church of St. Thomas in St. Helier, Jersey, when it officially opened in the 1870's. Canon France will not hazzard a guess at the Date of the Reliquary.
However, to the point of our discussion - drawers.
In the wooden base of the Cross ], - tooled from a solid block of timber 6"x5"x5" high - there is a recess [when one turns it upside down] 3" longx2"wide x 1.5" deep, with a 1/4"x1/4" recessed lips all the way round, obviously formed to accept a 1/4"-thick closure panel; - there is a tiny brass catch, and a
pair of miniature hand-made brass hinges still in-situ, - but the wooden closure panel is missing.
Because I wanted to know if Canon France wanted me to make a replacement panel [he didn't], I asked him about this recess - and his reply was that every "officailly-Vatican-issued" Reliquary comes with a Vatican document, which attests to the provenance of the Relic - so far as the Roman Church is able to determine. Hence the recess, for keeping document and reliquary together.
No drawer - I grant you, - but certainly a reason for historical Artisans devising some hidden means of keeping such an Attesting Document with a Reliquary - so a reason for incorporporating concealed drawers in Reliquary Designs.
Just thought you might be interested.
Matthew Baker, dwelling in "old" Jersey,
ion the Outer Marches of Insulæ Draconis.