Might it have been fitted with a sewing set? Perhaps a necessaire? A chocolatier's box? Open and holding cigars at some grand event? I have seen only 3 like this in all my long and very well-traveled and antique-shopped life. I bought them all. The other 2 each sold almost immediately in the $2300 range and both were the same maker, same ormolu casement and same semi-precious stone settings, but where this one is backed in faux tortoise shell (reconstituted horn and proteins -casein, to mimic real slabs of tortoise shell, the other 2 were backed in faux mother of pearl. I'm adding a photo of one of those at the very end of listing to show you the fake mother of pearl slab look (not included - this offering is for one which looks like fine old tortoise shell). Semi-precious cabochons, 12 in all, and a ball finial adorn the open framework and attacking hounds are cast on each side. Elegant on raised legs. It has the old original silk liner in the interior lid, beautifully preserved, but the bottom of box has no liner (only the square base would have - the tortoise shell mimic panels being done in that unique French manner. VERY exotically beautiful. Someone suggested to me it might have held a scent bottle originally, but I rather suspect not, and lean to it having been a royal creation into which chocolatier's confections were once presented. The entire box is like a jewel, really. 3" square at shoulder/opening and tapers to a 2 14" square inside bottom. I have never seen one in a museum or collection/shop. I know it's very RARE!
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. I apologize for a little dust showing up under the photography lighting. I've already removed it. All of the faux shell slabs are intact in this one which is very rare. There are no breaks or losses nor even bends to the ormolu framework. All 12 of the semi-precious gem cabochons are original and in place, and the round one worked into a finial up top, is as well. I think there would have been a matching silk liner pad in the very bottom of the interior of the box, which shows wood. It sits smoothly on the 4 legs. A fabulous rare treasure, kept these 170+ years as the treasure it truly is. Don't miss it!