Measurements: 3 1/2" x 4 7/8" square
This box is the type of 19th century object which I refer to as a VICTORIAN WHIMSEY. Its purpose was to hold decks of cards as is illustrated on the lid which shows a heat molded design of cards and the four suites of cards. And just to be certain that the owner understood the meaning of the visual image, the word "cards" is ink imprinted on the front of the box beneath the catch.
While we usually see gutta-percha as black or very dark brown, this gutta-percha lid is a lovely red-brown color with very crisp details. Note the laurel leaves surrounding the suites of cards. Laurel leaves are Roman in origin and were awarded to the winners of important games.
The boxwood body of the box has some age staining consistent with the 100 year old age of the piece. To me this is not a damage, but part of its history. You will decide if you agree with me.
The brass hinges are original and secure, as is the catch.
Wikipedia information*****"GUTTA-PERCHA refers to trees of the genus Palaquium noted for their latex as well as the rigid natural latex produced from the sap of these trees. The word "gutta-percha" comes from the plant's name in Malay, getah perca, which translates as "percha sap". 'Discovered' in 1843 gutta-percha was imported into England. During the second half of the 19th century, gutta-percha was used for myriad domestic and industrial purposes,and it became a household word."
19th c. "Cards" Box with Gutta-Percha Lid