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Rare Antique Regency Metamorphic Writing/Sewing box Circa 1810

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Reference:  wb122

Description:
A rare Regency rosewood metamorphic writing/sewing box with brass edging and inlay, opening up to form a chest of drawers above a writing slope complete with inkwells and sewing tools.

Origin: United Kingdom

Circa: 1810

Materials: Rosewood Mahogany brass.

Size: 36cm by 27.2cm by 22.5cm: 14.2 inches by 10.7 inches by 8.9 inches.

It opens to 34.5 cm high (13.6 inches)

Condition:  very good original condition Working locks and original key.

 

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Metamorphic table desk circa 1810

 

Click on the small image to watch a movie of the box opening. or download the movie by right clicking on the link and using the "Save Target As..."

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5mb movie

 

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This is a box of surprise and wonder.

The neat compact Regency form unfurls and metamorphoses into a traveling companion for writing, sewing and keeping precious objects.

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As well as the brass edging which provides both strength and protection the rosewood is inlaid with separate brass elements. 

The inlay is in the formal neoclassical style the lines ending in fleur de lis a favorite motif of the Prince of Wales, later  George IV .

 

 Brass inlay contrasts well with the dark figuring of the rosewood.

The box constructed from mahogany and veneered with sawcut prime figured rosewood chosen for both its hardness and beauty.

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 The box retains its original key. 

The same key is used for both the main box and for the sewing drawer.

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The top opens up into a Carlton House style desk with a set of small drawers above the baize covered writing tablet which opens down. The slope is double hinged to enable it to be compactly folded into the box.

 

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 The drawers are of dovetail construction the fronts are veneered with the same well figured rosewood as the outside of the box and edged with boxwood. A further indication of quality is the beading which has been run into both sides of the framing.

 

There is a double drawer which has a lift out tray  the divisions  lined in red leather and blue velvet.

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The drawers are lined in blue velvet and  red leather for cushioning personal jewels, medals, and coins.

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There are a further two drawers to the side.

 

The small side drawer springs opens to reveal writing implements;  there is a rounded pentray and compartments for inkwells. 

It is held in place with a pin.

 

 

The two brass toped inkwells are kept in the side drawer when not in use.

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Sheraton and Hepplewhite-- responded to the demand by making furniture that was not only portable and durable, but also delicate and graceful. 

"Campaign" furniture helped high-ranking officers  and travelers to preserve  the style of their home life. 

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 The drawers are constructed with fine dovetails

 

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The larger side drawer, which is locked with the same key as the main box is fitted with turned and carved sewing tools in Dieppe work.

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 The fully fitted sewing drawer is covered in its original paper the tops of the divisions are inlaid with  molded beaded pewter line. 

The tray still retains two sets of turned thread barrels and an original tape-measure.

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 The bobbin holding the thread is protected from dust by being kept in the barrel.  There is a small hole in the side of the barrel through which the thread is dispensed.
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 Most unusually the bobbins of the larger barrels are  turned maple.

 

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 The box has two silver thimbles (later) and an unusual egg and cup form tatting tool.

 

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The box has an unusual egg and cup form tatting tool.

 

 When the slope is folded up It engages with the top. Everything within this boxes movement has been impeccably  thought out.
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 There is a rod inserted in the top to retain the upper drawers shut when they are upside down in the folded position

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 Side view

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 The lock on the sewing drawer is original and has been made so that the same key  is used as for the main box lock.

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The box opened as it might be on the traveler's table

 

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For comparison see:

page 38-39 Antique Boxes, Tea Caddies, and Society, 1700--1880 
Antigone Clarke & Joseph O'Kelly,
ISBN: 0764316885

"A mahogany veneered writing box cross banded in kingwood. This box is truly a portable desk in that it is very close in design to a desk. It has two side drawers, in the characteristic manner of a writing box, but the way it opens to reveal a number of drawers at the raised back section is reminiscent of furniture pieces designed by Hepplewhite and Sheraton. The whole look and structure of the box is similar to Sheraton's Lady's "secretaries", where he recommends the use of cross banding and has small drawers facing the user. The two side drawers are an unusual feature. Taken with the good color of the wood and the cross banding, this may be the work of Sangwine and Sons who worked in Strand in London. Characteristic of the compact furniture which was gaining in popularity at the beginning of the 19th century."

"Sheraton explored bow front and serpentine shapes, as well as tambour and domed tops. These forms were very successfully translated into boxes giving an organic look which could not have been achieved with straight lines. Sheraton's decoration was within the genre of the time. He employed crossbanding, inlays and marquetry, but he also expanded the repertory of ornament to allow for more naturalistic flowers, fruit and figures. For example, his painted figures were not always drawn from antiquity... "

 

Nests of drawers above a writing slope were designed by Sheraton.

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