English Inlaid Box, ca. 1865
My mother had it for years, and she passed away, and then everything came to me. Only child, only daughter. And it was given to my-- made for my grandmother, in England, by a sea captain or something, and that's all we know, and it's a sewing box. And it's just always held trinkets and special papers...
Well, looking at the box, without knowing the family history, I surmised that it was indeed of English origin, and I would date the box probably in the early 1870s-- that would be my guess. The fact that the box shows a combination of sail vessels and steam and sail would date it in that period, in my opinion.
Oh, I hadn't thought of that.
Each side of the box has been very carefully inlaid with this beautiful marquetry designs. Here's a paddle steamer flying signal flags. Then, as we turn it towards the front, this beautiful heart-shape escutcheon, a beautifully rendered portrait of this steam and sail vessel. And then as we turn on this side, we see a full-sail vessel, and most vividly, here, on this large picture on the top, we see the vessel beautifully depicted, even with the extent they've added a lighthouse-- it's such a special piece. It's particularly beautiful because I think it has its original finish, so it has this beautiful, warm, mellow patina. This was most truly a labor of love. It took a great deal of time and effort. They've employed a very interesting variety of exotic woods. I see a burl walnut and that looks like cherry, and contrasting lighter fruitwoods. And then if we open up the box, he didn't stop there, he kept going. And the interior's beautifully compartmented with these very colorfully inlaid and dyed flags. And then each of these compartments contains fascinating little tidbits, family memorabilia. It's a treasure box, there's no doubt about it. When you set it down on the table, I said, "That's for me, I want to talk about it."
(chuckling) Yeah, you did.
As far as value is concerned, interest in sailor-made things and marine art is at an all-time high. I think as a particularly good marquetry box of this period-- it's so skillfully rendered-- that its value would be, well, somewhere probably in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.
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