A most interesting shape to this beautiful old work of Victorian artistry, and in quite elegantly fine condition, too, the box is a desk box or stationery chest. The interior is still lined with the original Victorian paper, sections would have been in place to divide one's cards, envelopes, letter papers, but a couple of the section dividers have been replaced (two front partitions) in the box, which dates to 1840-50s. The box is a particularly elegant one, softly undulating in shape and well curved/rounded on all sides and on lid. These old boxes often have trouble at their hinges due to the nature of the Victorian papier mache, which is very hard, but not so hard or strong as wood. This casket has no damage at all at the hinges, as you can see, though it does have a nip or two along that bottom/base edging - nothing serious, but a bit of roughness to consider (far less than most of these 150 + year old boxes have, by the way). This one is special not only for it's outline and condition. It's one with a very familiar shape to the mother of pearl inlay up top. These pearl inlays were initially the ground onto which paintings were done - either flowers and garlands, which were quite common, or as was the case with this one, entire landscape or countryscape scenes with people, etc. The outline of this inlay shows me it was a familiar scene of Scottish hunters returning from the hunt. The men are to the left, and you can see the silhouette of their Scottish caps. They lead a pair of welch ponies on whose backs are the pair of large antlered stags they've just shot at hunt. You can see the delicate inlay of the antlers to the top of the form. The main section would be the horses and stags, and to the foreground would be the hunting hounds. I believe this is a well known painting, since I have seen it on other fine papier mache items. Sadly, the painting is gone and only the pearl inlay remains. But these can be restored by an adept artist, and we might know just the person to put you in touch with if you're our buyer and wish to return the top painting to its former glory. We'll talk with the buyer about this connection, if/when it is sold. An exceptionally fine one, it is likely it was made in the early atilier of Jennens & Bettridge. Many things to indicate that maker, though it is not a signed piece. Only about 60% of the J&B papier mache was ever signed, remember, and there are many fine examples of that most esteemed maker out there without signature. I believe this to be one. if you know the name or artist of the painting I've described, please email me with that information and we'll add it here. Thank you!
Very good condition. There is an old repaired chip to the base, left front corner and the hinges have been replaced. There is a key but it does not turn the lock, mainly for visual appeal. As noted, the two front dividers have been replaced with a matching paper cover, there would also have been a smaller divider in the front with a partition on the right side for an inkwell likely. Some paint loss, as noted above. See pictures for measurements.
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