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An Early 19th C solid mahogany Captains writing box with elaborate secret compartments screw-down mechanism and historical associations.   

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Reference: wb 104

Description:
An Early 19th C solid Mahogany writing box with elaborate and unusual secret compartments screw-down mechanism and historical asociations. 

Origin: English/Irish

Circa:1810

Materials: Mahogany Brass

Size: 51 cm by 30 cm by 20.5 cm: 20.1 inches by 11.8 inches by 8.1 inches.

 

 

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The top has a brass plate inscribed "Colonel L'Estrange K.C.M"

The L'Estranges are an old established Anglo-Irish family. They first came to Ireland with Earl Strongbow in A.D. 1149 and married the daughter of the last king of Ireland Rory O'Connor. 

See www.asiawrite.co.nz/lestrange/
library/ireland.html
 

Condition: The wood is well patinated. The leather writing surface has been replaced. There are marks and scuff consistent with the life of a well used box. It has a working lick and key.

 

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Detail: the brass plate in the center of the top is inlaid and fixed with two ferrous screws. It is engraved:

"Colonel L'Estrange K.C.M"

Lieutenant-Colonel George L'Estrange was the military commander of the Manchester in 1819. He is famous for having given the order which resulted in what has become know as the Peterloo Massacre

See also: www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk
/PRestrange.htm
n 1819

 

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The Peterloo Massacre resulted when yeomanry were discharged on the people.

" In the next few minutes eleven people were killed and about 400, including 100 women, were wounded"

Manchester Observer on 23rd October 1819:

"Lieutenant-Colonel L'Estrange, the able, intelligent, and active officer who commanded the whole and made all the necessary arrangements for the occasion "

See also: www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk
/PRestrange.htm
n 

 

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Front view: the box has a working lock and key. It is of dovetail construction and has brass corners and straps fitted to hold it together in extreme conditions. 

 

Side view: 

The countersunk handles are similar in type and form to one on a printing box which has been featured in  Antique Boxes, Tea Caddies, and Society -- 1700-1880 see figure. 481

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see also: http://www.hygra.com/wb/captain.htm 

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Back view: 

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The side of the box is thinner than is unusual in screw down captains boxes. The screws and the key for screwing them are no longer present.  

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  The  box has two contemporary inkwells. The mahogany pentray is period, but it was clearly an afterthought as there is a mark in the wood which shows an earlier division of the chamber.

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The maroon leather writing surface is  a replacement

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And into the secrets: The cross division and one of the edges spring out and then the entire lower panel. Almost half is secret compartment! 

 

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The cross division is released by pressing on the wood in front of it!

 

 I will show the process to whoever buys the box. I find it difficult to describe. The panel is held in place by the cross pieces of wood.  The long facing comes out. To enable this the side gives way. I need more pictures!

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 The Long cross division also comes out.

 

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The box has a sprung false bottom. The two mortises are for the cross member which hold the panel in place. The floor of the box is beach.

 

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There is yet another secret layer. The panel under the pen ink compartments is also sprung.

 

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Two beach drawers with mahogany fronts of dovetail construction are concealed behind the panel. 

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All text and images and linked images are 1999-2005 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