Large c.1820s French pulverized wood casting - a table snuff with a beautifully bas relief profile portrait of a bearded gentleman, possibly an image of St. Peter. A gentleman contacted us, collector of these and midway into writing a book on these early 1800s French snuffs, to correct me on my information. I'm always grateful for experts. Shell interior, typical of 18th to 19th century snuffs, and gorgeous burl wood combine to create art from 2 purely natural materials. A sculptor's hand at work, it's an intriguing old one I found ages ago in Germany. It has a Black Forest feel to it, but maybe only because it works so well in those collections. As noted, French and c.1820s. Large at 3 3/4" in diameter and with the deep bas relief carving up top, a full 1 1/2" tall, closed. Photos show all angles of view so you can see how deep this relief carved profile is.
Very good condition for age and type, the lid of the box is superb, and as you can see, the bottom half has a few imperfections. It is primarily a couple of age or drying cracks which show on the sides of bottom half (see images). Shell lining remains in quite nice form, a split visible but the rise of lip isn't chipped away, and no bug bites. Most of the old Black Forest or burl carvings seem to get a bit of drying and shrinkage age cracks and it seems more like that than having been dropped since the bottom is quite beautiful, still. You can see the line in the old wood, which extends to the side of box, and it seems a very natural line in the grain to me. Still, not perfect, but perfectly unique and charming. I remember it as early 1800s, but I have no museum comparable to affirm. Could be earlier. Full measurements noted on photos.
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