This rare French Regency mahogany dove-tailed box for a tin decorator or tinsmith has a brass carrying handle, brass lock with original (not working) key, two hook and eye closures at the front and a brass strut at the side. Once opened, the lid stays upright with the assistance of this brass strut. The interior is a surprise. The box itself has a red velvet-lined and fitted compartment with side lifting handles and is almost completely filled with original tools. At the back there is a space for an octagonal bottle labelled 'Patine-Etain. Bourgeois Aine-Paris'. Another larger, un-lidded compartment is filled with a variety of tools. Inside the lid is the tour de force, with three tin panels showing the stages of embossing and engraving a piece of tin, described as “Phases Du Travail De L’étain” with additional labels in French at the top. The velvet-lined compartment can be lifted to reveal a variety of boxes, pieces of tin and other paraphernalia. All these tools are included in the images above and a tin expert may know what they are all for. The only major tool that is missing is the hammer and possibly one smaller metal item. It is unlikely that this was used by a professional tinsmith and more likely it was used by a hobbyist. There is a hairline crack to the lid but the whole piece is remarkable for its comparative completeness and historical record of previous crafts. Width 11.5 ins (29.25cm) x depth 8 ins (20.5cm) x height 2.75 ins (6.5 ins). Weight 1730 grams. This item appears in my book, “Antique Boxes, Inside and Out” on page 239.
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