Well Richard I think your stories and recollections and knowledge are great and I just can't help myself from jumping on that bandwagon. Thanks for putting on such a great show here.
The farmer who lived at this house, being also the village carpenter at the same time, took advantage of the elm kill-off when Dutch elm disease - so called, by the way, because the cause of the sickness was first identified by people in Holland, the name having nothing to do with the origins or cause of the disease - took root in this area. He used lot of elm wood in the interior paneling of the barn and other stuff like this cabinet and by the way it is all badly bug infested. Luckily a variety resistant to Dutch Elm Disease is now proven and there is a great effort going on in the area to re-establish the elm population which prior to the kill-off was a defining characteristic of the landscape here.
As for its use as handle wood, a steamed or pressure bent piece may well have the tendency to be unreliable, I don't know but I don't see that bending the wood to form the off-set was ever much in use in Europe. The off-set comes largely through the way the broadaxe head typical for this area is composed with a skewed forged socket, the handle more or less an extension with maybe a slight natural curve of its own. A handle on these axes with a wild crook or bend always strikes me as most unhandy and more difficult to control than necessary.