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Victorian Papier-Mâché Boite aux Stylos (Writing Box)
We love these deep black boxes with the rainbow colored bits of abalone shells!! This one is sweet and just the right size for holding ink pens, pencils and erasers. It dates from the turn of the century, 1900-1910.
This type of item was popular with the traveling nobility who made the "Grand Tour" of Europe. Artisans in all the major tourist cities crafted lovely items to sell to the eager clients.
This box is made of Papier-mâché, a combination of paper pulp and layers of glue which form a wood-hard solid shape. Many items were made from this material during the late Victorian period into the early 1900's. This box is a souvenir of the seaside town of Trouville, the town name is written in script just under the star design in the center. The colorful design is made of tiny pieces of abalone shells, placed into a puzzle-like combination to from (in this case) a 1/4" wide border and a central star design. Each shell was individually hand cut and glued into place.
The box opens with a little knob and has three sections on the interior. It measures: 7 3/4" long, 1 1/4" high. It is in good condition...with no shell pieces notably missing. The corners at the top have some wear, but this is typical with the age and use of the box. The varnish finish has circular "crazing" marks to the top.
It is a lovely box, and is completely serviceable as a pen or desk box.