Papier Mâché Ladies Writing Slope With Original Lock and Key, Mid 19th Century
This is a mid-century papier mâché writing box, slope, or lap desk. At the Great Exhibition of 1851 there was a revival of papier mâché that were decorated with painting and mother-of-pearl, as is this writing box. Most of these boxes were decorated in a floral theme, as is this box. Please note the mother-o-pearl used in connection with yellow, orange, blue and green paint to complete the floral design on the lid of the box. Small pieces of mother-of-pearl, rich in a variety of colors, are used to for the stringing around the perimeter of the writing box's lid. Gold leaf is used to create the designs on each of the four sides of the box.
The box is fully fitted with an ink well, pen tray, and slanted compartment for pins and stamps. The writing flaps appear to be the original made of red velvet. The box is lovely when opened, as seen in the photos. The top flap lifts revealing a compartment for the storage of writing materials, letters, envelopes, etc.
The box measures 10 inches wide, 7 15/16 inches deep, and is 2 3/4 inches high at the front end, and 1 5/8 high at the lower end.
The writing box is in very good condition, considering its age. The papier mâché is in very fine condition. There is a small area at the lower corner on the right that shows wear, but other than that the papier mâché is fine. There is wear to the original velvet covering the writing flaps. Note that the lower writing surface is not a flap that opens, but one that is attached to the lower end of the box. Each of the writing surfaces was covered with its own piece of velvet. If you look carefully where they come together at the box hinge, there are parallel edges to each piece of velvet covering. And as you open and close the box, you can see that the hinge required unattached velvet.
There is a lock and key, in working order, and most likely, original to the box.
This would be a wonderful gift. It was most likely made for a mid-century lady.