Sometimes you find these called Honesty Boxes. They were boxes left in businesses, churches etc. for people to leave notes, money when there was nobody around to collect.
However, the quality of this piece surpasses any that would be found in those locales. It was probably used in a home in lieu of a butler or any other "reliable" message taker. Most middle class in Victorian times could aspire to a maid, if only a daily, but a Butler was only for the rich, so boxes of this form had a market! the maid could be entrusted to make sure a calling card was left if the master or mistress was not at home.
This box has dazzling carving. It could possibly be Anglo-Indian, again because of the quality and the skill. Carving of this type was found in Madras, now Chennai, and in the Vizagapatam area of that city. As can be seen, the top of the box is carved to depict "Not At Home". the sides, front and back have fanciful birds and the English rose emblem. Measures 6 inches by 4 inches by 4 inches with the handle extending 5 inches circa 1870.
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