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Antique High quality Early Victorian solid  flame  mahogany writing  box with rare secret false bottom Circa 1840.

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Description:
Ref: WB617 http://www.hygra.com/uk/n11/WB617 

High quality Early Victorian solid  flame  mahogany writing  box of  double blind dovetail construction with rounded brass edging,  The box opens to a gray felt writing surface with places for storing papers underneath. It has the usual compartments for ink and writing accessories. It has a beautifully constructed  lift out pen-tray.  
The box has three satinwood faced secret drawers hidden behind a sprung panel. It also has a rare sprung false bottom. 
Other features are a Bramah lock,  countersunk side carrying handles and a lockable side drawer.

Origin: UK ;  Circa: 1840; Materials: Mahogany and Brass.

Size: 40.2cm wide by 27 cm by 16.4 cm:  15.8  inches wide by  10.6  inches by  6.5  inches.

Condition: good overall; working locks with keys; see images

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The box is made of solid mahogany with pinned rounded  brass. The pins are driven in at an angle. The brass protects the edges and contrasts with the rich colour of the mahogany.

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The box opens to a dark gray writing surface and compartments for writing accessories and ink wells. the corners have brass let into the facings strengthening the box structurally. 

 

The hinge is stamped "PM & Co IMP" all the screws have been lined up
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The box retains two original  inkwells with Sheffield plate tops. The pen  tray with its  sloping sides is  complex . It has a bead run into its top edge.

The box has two locks. The main  Bramah lock and a smaller lock for the writing surface.

 

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Both the locks work and have their keys. The smaller key also fits the sprung side drawer.

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 Beneath the flap, as is usual there is a compartment for storing papers. It has a rare false bottom.

 

The false bottom is released by pressing  as shown in the photograph.

At this date writing boxes often have a French polish finish on the inside.

 

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 There is a steel spring beneath which lifts the panel of wood.

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Beneath the panel there is a large secret compartment.

 

The box also has a nest of three secret drawers hidden behind a sprung panel. The panel is released by pressing as shown in the photo.

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The panel then springs open.

An unusual detail  is the small panel of brass  aligned with the spring.

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The drawers have satin wood fronts and turned ebony pulls, the panel has three holes drilled in to accommodate the pulls.  An unusual detail  is the small panel of brass  aligned with the spring.

 

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The lock on the flap is stamped "PATENT" and with a crown devise  with "VR beneath for Victoria Regina.: Victoria Queen.
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 Putting the false bottom back.

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There is also a storage space for papers under the other flap. The rich figure of the wood is enhanced by the polish. One of the purposes of the polish is to make the wood more dimensionally stable to changes in humidity.

Boxes from the early part of the 19th C generally only had a wax finish if they weren't left completely without finish.

 

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The lock on the sprung side drawer uses the same key as the flap. It is stamped "PATENT"  and a crown devise .

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The main lock is stamped "BRAMAHS PATENT" with the crown device.

The patented Brahma lock was used on high quality boxes. To engage, the key is pushed into the lock. The sprung levers of the lock are brought to the right positions by grooves cut in the barrel of the key rather than the flag. This results in a very neat small key.

 

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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