A rather unique lap desk, writer's box, typical with the original velvet writing surface on inside lid, but rather unique in that it is fitted out with foil-lined compartments and lids for some. The foil and a spot for matches makes me think it was a combination correspondence box and also cigars box. Quite unique, indeed. The size is also interesting, smaller at 10.5" x 7.25" and nearly 2" in depth, no slant to it. Well preserved, all that gorgeous mother of pearl and abalone marquetry work and hand painted rocaille in gold. I see a single piece of the pearl lifted from its spot, far left garland.
Very good condition for age and type. Quite typical for the old papier mache to chip, and there is one corner chip, visible in our images. Not very difficult to restore a single corner ship like this, by the way, with wood fill and lacquer, but we'll leave it as found. The old hinges are each there, it looks like a little restoration or insetting of the hinge might have been done at some point. Photos show it from all angles. The old velvet writing surface is very nice, still. Working lock but no key at listing time. Likely a souvenir of the Grand Tour, it is English. In this quality range, I usually look for Jennens & Bettridge mark but this one is unmarked.