A superb old beauty that comes to us from the Napoleon III era (c. 1850-70, approximately), a period of highest aesthetic in boxes and chests, caskets, rich with the skills of Master ebenistes, (ebaniste) work. Those are the furniture and cabinetry tradesmen in France and the era brought forth a myriad of the finest old boxes. I've been a box collector from way way back, and these rise above all in my opinion. The boulle cartouche is just beautiful in this one, set with inlays of mother of pearl against the marquetry of brass and the veneers of beautifully contrasted old hardwoods. The style of this one is my favorite, as well, with hinged upper cap that folds back and away to reveal storage for your stationery and all inside. One original inkwell of the 2 that would have come with it remains in the chest, as does the old original silk velvet writing surface. It misses a strip there at the fold, but still, better to have the old original cut silk velvet than a replacement. I've cleaned this one up and given the old wood a polish, the brass as well. A nice brass pencil edging and some serpentine motion to the design really sets it off nicely. All hinges are in place, working fine. There is a little disruption to the black wood veneer at the very front right where it meets that brass pencil edging, and perhaps a little other imperfection here or there but not anything serious enough to detract from the beauty, display, use or enjoyment of this old beauty. We half expected to see an engraved lock plate signature by Tahan or Vervelle, Giroux, P. Sormani or one or two other of the noted top makers on this one, it is so fine. But it might well be by one of those and just one that is unsigned. That signature would elevate the price and value for collectors, so this one has the aesthetic at a bit of a bargain price. They didn't put engraved lock plates on every single one. Makers to the King, and to Royals of Europe, the elite of the world, if only we had the rich history this chest could tell us. Alas, like almost everything that comes to market, no story but the one we know of history of the time, the quality, the inherent beauty that arrives intact as it is to us today.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. Slight flaws noted above, too. Please read all. The interior wood is also a fine grain hardwood, elegantly cut in section dividers for your stationery, notes and room for your pens, nibs, sealing wax and seals there inside, plus covered compartment for larger correspondence and your special letters (perhaps bound in an emerald green silk ribbon - love letters come to mind). Some things we've lost to the digital age, much to our collective dismay, right? Write love letters!