An incredibly beautiful box, this! From the prime era for French cabinetry makers' boxes, Napoleon III era (c.1850-70) there seems no end to the competitive elegant designs and elegance of the boxes from that era - each ebaniste firm seeking to out-do the next. Names we look for on lock plates include TAHAN, Vervelle, Giroux, P. Sormani, a few others. This one does not have the engraved lock plate of one of those acknowledged Masters, but it certain is of equal quality. Exterior of the box is superb, with a bold statement in gilt metal appliqués set with cabochons of mother of pearl, domes of steel, and contrasting hardwood veneers highlighted by stringing. Canted corners and heavy brass pencil edging finish the box very nicely. One curious thing, though it does work - You see that oval mother of pearl set into the cartouche, into which "Dunkirque" is engraved? I am almost certain that is not original to this box. Why? The box dates about 100 years before the infamous battle of Dunkirque, 1940, to which it might refer. It's possible it was added as memento, perhaps a cut-down gambling chip (jeton). Although it might be original and a souvenir of someone's beach vacation circa 1850 to the northwestern coastline of France.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, with a superb exterior - nothing missing. A nod as above to the cartouche's inset of mother of pearl, slight flashing chips to upper right of the oval. Working lock and key to fit, elegant hardware. It's flaw is, as is often the case after 150-170 years, the original silk lining shows its age, and with this one probably ought to be replaced. It's an easy-to-do task, but I always lean to the old original materials and state if possible. It isn't tattered so much, but it's had spills. No odors, however. Document box or desk box; jewelry box, perhaps sewing box - extra large and very impressive. Full measurements noted on photos.