Legend has it that sailor's made these lovely boxes for their sweethearts back home, but then I've also heard it was the other way around. We may never know who made this outstanding piece of Folk Art, but it is an exceptional example.
I have seen delicate, fanciful framed baskets like this before, filled with seaweed arrangements with perhaps, as in this case, a few terrestrial straw flowers mixed in, but I have never seen one with such a gloriously embellished sea shell frame which includes exotic shells, some iridescent ones native to Tasmania and the Australian continent that were nearly collected into extinction in Victorian times. The frame is without doubt, a knockout, just an extraordinary piece.
CONDITION is amazing, there are a few missing shells, but this piece is remarkably original and intact. The glass is old and wavy, just what you want to see, and it is constructed with hand made screws circa 1825. The silk that lines the sides of the interior has faded from it's original deep violet. Please look at the pictures. Measures 10 1/2" x 13 1/4" overall, with the sight size of the inner chamber measuring approximately 6" x 8' x about 3" deep.
I found this beautiful, unique piece recently in Maine where I would guess it's been residing quietly for almost 200 years. I don't know when you're likely to find another that will rival this. Enjoy!