The size is quite remarkable - surely this originally held something quite special - marriage offerings or documents, special jewelry or perhaps a gentleman's treasures? This is one of the most exceptionally beautiful hand carved items we've ever had the pleasure to offer (and you know we've always got the very best). If it were not that the rest of the box is a perfect match for that top panel, and evident in age putting it mid-1800s, I would venture that this top carved panel is a much older one from Florence, Italy cabinetry makers, and probably salvaged from some palatial residence or other in that old city or another nearby. It has the fine elements of the old Grotesques, the elongation and morph from putti into mermaid, into scroll and cornucopia. Carving so finely done, it seems like it should never come to market and should remain in a museum setting so all can enjoy it. I would say the carved top panel is likely 1600s to 1700s, latest, and salvaged and made over into a chest sometime early to mid-1800s. The interior lining is consistent with the manner in which the French caskets of the era are lined, and that silk satin remains in very fine condition, given the obvious age. Likewise, the handles are a bit odd, and seem to me to also be salvage from some fine old Gothic chest or commode - why the one in front except to match the others but also be escutcheon for the lock. Working lock remains with this one, but at listing time we have not mated it with one of our spare keys. We'll be sure to try them all and hopefully will find one, but it is sold without key at this price. We will alter the listing text accordingly if we do locate a working key. But meantime, isn't this just the finest!
Very good to excellent condition throughout, from that thick tuck/tufted silk satin interior to the fabulous hand carved work of art in bas relief panel up top. This one measures 19 3/8" x 9 5/8" and is 5" tall with the top carving included. The interior is 17" x 7 3/8" and roughly 3" deep. I've written above about what I think this casket represents, and I do think the casket or chest (it's almost 20" long, after all) is an early to mid-1800s box made to display a 1600 to 1700s salvaged Italian carved panel that has been mounted as the lid. Gothic influence to the hardware, all of which matches. A fabulous chest that is being enjoyed immensely in my own collection right now. Please don't buy it immediately - I am trying to decide if this is one I will pull and keep forever. I truly love the fine old carvings, and of course the Tuscan grotesques of Florence. Measurements on the photos. No odors, no damage to that lining, no chips or cracks or damage to the carving. A real treasure, this!
Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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