After Wes Cowan rejected Kevin's wooden document box -- at auction, the dealer refunded the money in order to re-take possession of the box. Why would a dealer ever give back money? Because he felt this box truly was a 19th-century antique — and he set out to prove it.
The dealer showed the box to dozens of dealers at The Arions York Show. Their general consensus was that the box was a legitimate antique, probably from 1840-60, though possibly 1860-80. They identified the scene on the box as a reproduction of "The Errand Boy," an 1818 painting by the Scottish artist David Wilke, and most thought this was a steel engraving that was cut out and applied, then varnished or shellacked.
When asked about the dealer's experience at the Arions York Show, Wes Cowan had this to say:
"My first reaction upon seeing this box was "It's not old." I'm sticking with that. The box is put together with wire nails, there is no way to tell when it was painted, when the découpage decoration was added, or when the cloth was put inside.
Wire nails didn't first become available for mass use until the 1890s, meaning that the box was more than likely not made before this date. And while the engraving may be "old," if the box wasn't made until around 1890, the engraving couldn't have been added any earlier than this date.