This type of dresser box is particular to the period between 1870 and 1880 in France. Heavy, molded metal work, depicting a scene or story dominated in all forms of accessories. This sensational example originates from Paris.
The case of the box is of solid oak. The patina of the wood has darkened with age to a lovely mahogany color. The metal in all of the ornamentation is a combination mixture which has a thin layer of silverplate overlay. The box stands on four small metal feet. The front panel has an ornate metal lock (with key, working) which is surrounded by intricate leaves and vines. At each front corner is a two dimensional lady's portrait/bust (part of this is missing on the right corner along her face).
The lid has a large central motif (6 3/4" x 4 1/4"). It is in two dimensions, making the birds appear life-like on the surface. A poignant scene is depicted, the father bird guards the nest and the mother bird feeds the little baby. The detailing is exquisite. You can feel the "feathers" of each bird, clearly see the facial expressions and almost hear the little bird's cry. There is a little egg in the nest behind the baby. Detailed flowers and leaves surround the nest. The veins in the leaves, the texture to the branches and flowers are all carefully depicted. At each corner are small vignettes of flowers and leaves.
Surrounding the edging of the box and the design on the top is metal trim in the form of tiny balls (this was once attached with tiny nails, some of the nails still survive but much of this trim has been reattached over time without nails).
The interior retains the original ivory silk (fraying to the bottom and sides but still useable). The interior hinges of the box are in good working order as is the hinge which holds the box in an open position.
The box measures:12" x 8 1/4" x 4" tall. The interior measures 2" deep. The box is heavy and solid, in good antique condition. The lid does have two small hairline splits which are typical with age and temperature changes. The silverplate motifs are in excellent condition (with the exception of the right front portrait medallion).
It is a fine example of craftsmanship, from a brief period in French history when metalwork was prized and fine boxes were treasured.11
Fine French Small Antiques: Eighteenth Century Smalls, Gilded Bronze, Objets of Vertu, Napoleon III