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Antique 18th Century (Jane Austen type) Solid Mahogany Writing Box with Side Drawer Circa 1790

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Description:
Ref: WB603
http://www.hygra.com/uk/n11/WB603 

18th Century Solid mahogany writing box with side drawer   Circa 1790
This is a solid mahogany writing box made in the characteristic late 18th century style, designed to withstand military campaigns and/or extensive traveling.

The box has drop down carrying handles on the two sides; these are  the early form of handle. There is a side drawer which pulls out when a brass pin is pulled out when the box is in the open position. There is also a reading stand which is attached to the top surface when the box is held at an angle with the hinged brass catch. The surface under the top flap is mahogany.

There is an old baize covering on the writing surface which is the correct lining for such a box. 
Working lock and key.

This box is very similar to that which was owned and used by Jane Austen. Jane's box  is now in the British Library.

Origin:  UK;  Circa: 1790; Materials: Mahogany.

Size: 45.2 cm wide by 24.6 cm by 16.2  cm: 17.8  inches wide by  9.7  inches by  7  inches.

Condition: good overall; working lock and key; Shallow scratches stains etc in keeping with the life story of the box.  see images

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This box is very similar to that which was owned and used by Jane Austin.

Jane Austen's Writing Box

Jane Austen's Writing Box

In 1798 Jane and her writing box were briefly separated. Her letter written from the "Bull and George in Deptford  to her sister Cassandra gives a good idea as to how important the writing box was to her.

In 1798 Jane and her writing box were briefly separated. Her letter written from the "Bull and George in Deptford to her sister Cassandra gives a good idea as to how important the writing box was to her.

There is inlaid version of the 18th century box illustrated at: Hygra: Antique late 18th century inlaid mahogany writing box with an unusual secret compartment

And another version with brass edging at: Hygra: Antique writing box Circa 1790

This box is similar to  another illustrated on our website.

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The  green baize looks original

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There is also a reading stand which is attached to the top surface when the box is held at an angle with the hinged brass catch.

The reading stand was very useful in a time when light was either from window or candle. A book could be arranged to maximize the available light.

The box enabled you to read and gather knowledge for longer.

Perhaps it inspired you to open it and start writing.

 

 

This is a picture of Jane Austin's box which is now in the British Library. .

 

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Jane Austen's Writing Box

Jane Austen's Writing Box

In 1798 Jane and her writing box were briefly separated. Her letter written from the "Bull and George in Deptford  to her sister Cassandra gives a good idea as to how important the writing box was to her.

In 1798 Jane and her writing box were briefly separated. Her letter written from the "Bull and George in Deptford to her sister Cassandra gives a good idea as to how important the writing box was to her.

 

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 The side handles are external and not countersunk as in later boxes.

A bead has been let in around the drawer.

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 dust before you photograph

 

The pen tray is of the curved form. Sometimes earlier and later there was a tray. A tray could hold more pens, but could become cluttered.

The curved form which could be lifted out would at best hold just a few writing implements.

The box has two replacement screw top inkwells. Although these are of new manufacture they are similar to those that would have been used by 18th and 19th Century users of the box.

The  separate lift-out  server is rare and unusual.

 

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Under the writing surfaces there are places for storing papers. The reading stand when not in use is also stored here.

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An interesting feature is the retractable  lock tennon. 

 

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 The box has a working lock and key

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In the sides of the box, the carpentry is clear. This is a double blind sometimes called a "full blind" dovetail joint.

The joint is strengthened with a piece of brass. These are sometimes cast and sometimes cut from sheet. At this date the holding screws, as here, are mostly iron or steel and turned to a screw which would hold itself. A hole would first have to be drilled. The surface would then be flattened. These screws look as if they have never moved since they were put in.

It is not easy to move these screws whose slots are almost never in the center and have ground to be flat with the brass.

The joint is visually very different to a simple miter. A miter joint which glues end grain wood to end grain wood is much weaker and would not have survived the rigors of travel or 200 years.

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 Detail of the reading stand mechanism.

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The box has a side drawer of dovetail construction for storing additional papers

 

 The felt on the underside of the box is a replacement.

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All text and images and linked images are 1999-2011 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly. If you require any further information on permitted use, or a licence to republish any material, email us at copyright@hygra.com