Museum quality 19th century Napoleon III or Victorian papier mache ecritoire, writing box or lap desk with magnificent serpentine shaping and ornate hand painted & mother of pearl decoration! Ooops, I forgot to add the rare large size of this one, fully 12" across. A truly exceptional piece, but then that's what you've come to expect from us and don't we just love finding these gorgeous treasures! Possibly an unmarked Jennens & Bettridge piece, the layered lid panel and opulent gilt enamel are the main clues. Nice large size, too...perfect as the centerpiece in a fine grouping of antique boxes.
Very good condition for age and type. Usually the weak spot in these old pieces is at the hinges, at the tips or ridges/legs, and this one is in really nice condition. The panels of mother of pearl you see there on the top would have been hand painted and represent one of the old castles of England, no doubt, though I can't identify which. The over-painting is gone , lost to years of cleaning, polishing. Loads of hand applied gold trim and rocailles of 'seaweed' like edge decoration around the outer perimeter of the top. All of those little mother of pearl chips are rich in coloration and pearlescent shimmer.