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Antique writing Box with marquetry in rosewood and bird's eye maple, circa 1840 

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Reference:  wb131

Description:
Antique writing slope/ lap desk, the top decorated with marquetry in contrasting rosewood and birds eye maple  depicting stylized themes from nature, opening down to reveal an embossed royal purple velvet writing surface and compartments for pens and writing instruments. There is a compartment for holding paper under the flap. 

Origin: UK.

Circa: 1840

Materials:

Size: 35.5cm by 24.6cm by 9.2cm tapering to 6cm:  14 inches by 9.7 inches by 3.6 inches tapering to 2.4 inches.

Condition: Good over all, some war to the velvet writing surface, working lock and key.

 

Antique writing slope/ lap desk, the top decorated with marquetry in contrasting rosewood and birds eye maple  depicting stylized themes from nature, opening down to reveal an embossed royal purple velvet writing surface and compartments for pens and writing instruments. There is a compartment for holding paper under the flap circa 1840 Enlarge Picture

 

Antique writing Box with marquetry in rosewood and bird's eye maple, circa 1840 Enlarge Picture

The fast, non-fading purple dye was an item of luxury trade, prized by Romans, who used it to colour ceremonial robes. Pliny the Elder described the dyeing process of two purples in his Natural History[2]:

"'... the Tyrian hue ... is considered of the best quality when it has exactly the colour of clotted blood, and is of a blackish hue to the sight, but of a shining appearance when held up to the light; hence it is that we find Homer speaking of "purple blood'."

the box opens down to reveal an embossed royal purple velvet writing surface and compartments for pens and writing instruments. 

There is a compartment for holding paper under the flap. 

Tyrian purple velvet. The writing surface has some staining and wear marks, especially in the middle. However because  the historical importance of  this color I would not recommend replacement. The look is of sophisticated quality decadence.

From Wikipedia we learn:

"Tyrian purple (Greek: πορφύρα, porphura), also known as royal purple or imperial purple, is a purple-red dye made by the ancient Canaanites/Phoenicians in the city of Tyre, from a mucus-secretion of the hypobranchial gland of a marine snail known as Murex brandaris or the Spiny dye-murex.  

A synthetic purple was not developed untill the early 20th C.

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The marquetry on this box draws its inspiration from native plants. The treatment is  formal. Note the strong treatment of the fern pattern. 

 

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The box retains its original velvet writing surface which does show wear as can be seen in the picture.
The box has two inkwells one with a silver plated top.

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 There is a compartment for holding paper under the flap. 

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All text and images and linked images are 1999-2006 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