An Exceptionally Fine French Serpentine and brass marquetry inlaid Cave a Liqueur or Tantalus Box with mother of pearl.
French circa 1870
Primarily veneered in fine thuya wood of wonderful colour and figure, the serpentine form of this box is enhanced by cross bandings of kingwood and inlays incorporating finely cut and engraved brass, mother of pearl and kingwood. The sides of this box are also serpentine and this is an unusual feature, usually only the front is of serpentine shape and the additional time spent on this shaping emphasises the luxury nature of this piece.
The lid on the box rises and folds back and the sides fold clear of the body to reveal a removable rosewood glass stand with cast gilt bronze handle, filled with eight glasses and four decanters all finely etched with flowers and the decanters having original cut glass stoppers. The patina is the original finished that has been cleaned and waxed.
The quality of this piece is quite outstanding and would have been the height of luxury in Europe at the time. Although French in origin, English luxury retailers such as Aprey were known to retail these pieces to their clientele so it is not possible to say whether the piece was designed for the domestic or export market. The piece is of the level of quality associated with the firm of Vervelle Audot who traded from 1 Rue de Montmercy in Paris and who produced tantalus boxes of this quality for an elite Parisian client base.
Even with fine examples such as the present piece there is usually some degree of damage to the glassware and so it is wonderful that this box and its contents have survived in perfect condition having all four original decanters and stoppers. There are spare holders to the back presumable which housed further liqueur glasses.
A real collector’s piece which would add a decorative accent to any fine interior.