Extravagantly embellished with mother of pearl and gilded ormolu, this exquisite desk box is a fine example of the richness which hallmarks style of Napoleon III. It originates from Paris and dates from the end of the period of Napoleon III (1850-1872).
The case is of wood which with a rich black lacquer finish. There are twelve small(3/4" wide) mother of pearl medallions running from the lid to the front panel. Each medallion has a frame of gilded metal in an elaborate design. There is one very large, central medallion (2" x 1 3/8") which is in a raised bezel setting. Gilded metal scrolls and four arabesques create a beautiful frame around this center piece. Each arabesque has a round mother of pearl at the very tip. There is a beautiful gilded metal frame around the lock. The box has it's key and the lock is working.
The interior is lined with ivory colored moiré silk. The bottom of the box has four round glass feet. There is a slight remainder of the original inventory ticket at the bottom left. The box measures 10 3/8" x 4 1/2" x 3 1/8" tall. The interior is 1 7/8" deep. It is in good antique condition. The bottom right mother of pearl medallion has a hairline crack just off center but the piece is intact and this does not affect the design. There is a slight piece of wood worn from the back center at the hinge ( from the lid opening and shutting). The interior is in amazingly good condition with little wear.
The rainbow colors which reflect from the shells that are placed on such a deep black background are striking. It is a beautiful box with a jewel-like quality from a period of opulence in French design history.