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A Captains Box with  secret drawers and compartments  and accessories for dressing Circa 1800

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Reference:  WB476

Description:
WB476: A rare brass bound solid mahogany ship captain's  campaign writing box  and dressing box. 
It has a screw down mechanism for securing it.  
It also has dressing accessories and unusual secret compartments. One liftout tray is fitted for razors another holds cut crystal cosmetic jars with silver plate tops. Circa 1800.

Origin: UK

Circa: 1800


Size: 45.3 cm by 27.7 cm by 16.3 cm: 17.9  inches by 10.9 inches by 6.4 inches.

Condition: good over all but some marks as would be expected in a box which would have been taken on military and naval campaigns.

 

A Captains Box with  secret drawers and compartments  and accessories for dressing Circa 1800 Enlarge Picture

 

A Captains Box with secret drawers and compartments and accessories for dressing Circa 1800 Enlarge Picture

The brass is structural and fastened to the box with iron screws. 

The box is made from solid mahogany  and constructed with dovetail joints.

The handles are strong enough to lift the box. 

This is the sort of box that would have accompanied officers in the early 19th C.

The lock works and  has its  key.

 

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The corner detail and construction are similar to http://www.hygra.com/wb/captain.htm 

 

 

 The key is original and works.

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The layout of the writing tablet is very unusual. It has three separately opening compartments. 

The upper flap is divided in two parts, the smaller compartment on the right is fitted for writing implements and has two associated inkwells. 

Another slightly later box illustrated on our website has this arrangement:  http://hygra.com/uk/wb/wb116/ 

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The larger  space under  the  left hand  flap has been compartmentalized with lift out trays to hold  dressing accessories .  

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The box has a screw down mechanism to enable it to be fixed to a table. The screws are tightened using a special key. 

At this date the engagement with the screw is a triangle. Squares of the same period survive

 

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 The screw comes out of the bottom of the box to secure it. This was necessary to avoid the box being thrown to the floor in rough seas.

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 Liftout tray with razors. 

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 Detail of the back of the mirror

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Lift out box of dovetail construction having a hinged lid and silver handel.

 

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 Lift out leather tray with bone handled nail file, tweezers, and hook as well as cut steel scissors. 

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 Under right hand flap the space is for writing accessories. It has individual places for inkwells  and pens. 

 

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 The box contains cut crystal jars and bottles with silver plated tops.  Although associated with the box these are  of later manufacture circa 1830.

 

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The shaving brush is later than the box and has the hallmark for London 1827. The makers mark is that of Mary Ann and Charles Reilly  who registered with Goldsmiths Hall in 1826.

 

 The box has very unusual concealed  compartments under the pen tray.

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 To access the secret compartments some of the divisions have to be taken out.

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 There are traces of glue on the bottom of the divisions showing that a one time they were glued in given further security to the secret drawers!

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 Here the large divider is being slid up

 

 to reveal a nest of three drawers, one of which is tapered to fit the confines.

 

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Under the largest of the drawers there is a flat piece of wood arranged for holding coins. I can see this being completely overlooked even if a thief had been clever enough to find the hidden drawers. The drawer above it has to be taken out for it to be visible.  

 

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 The drawers are mitered with an extra piece of mahogany cut in to strengthen. 

 

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Close up showing both the brass bindings. The brass is secured with steel/iron screws. These were clearly  flattened when first put in. 

The key  is used to tighten the screws for fixing the box down. I have pushed down on the key so that the screw comes out of the bottom of the box.

 

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Under one of the flaps there is a compartment for storing papers.

 

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All text and images and linked images are 1999-2009 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