Large Rare 18th Century Mirrored Casket
About this piece
The exterior covered with bevelled mirrored panels each divided by inlaid ivory banding and silver mounts. With a hinged drop front revealing six fitted interior drawers each with a ring pull and lined in the original scarlet velvet
Probably Vizagapatam, India, circa 1770
Form, decoration and scale do not aid us firmly in an attribution however the most likely port of manufacture for the ivory veneer is Vizagapatam on India’s East Coast (now called Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh). The cabinet carcass is built in satinwood, the dominant timber used in smaller scale pieces from Vizagapatam during the mid to late Eighteenth century.
The most unusual element of the design are the geometrically applied bevelled mirror plates, this is absolutely atypical of known pieces from the region. The use of mirror plate is not unusual, with many work & jewellery boxes having them within the lid. The V&A have a Toilet Mirror (museum no. 49-1905) with a wonderful old mercury glass plate with a similar patination. Furthermore we have an unusual internal arrangement of drawers – three short, two medium and one long to the base. Each of these is lined with old raspberry silk velvet and a small single silvered ring pull. Clearly this piece was a very specific commission and our strongest lead as to a purpose comes in the form of the decorative rings in red and black throughout the ivory elements; these are identical to the ‘dot and ring’ numerals found on early stick dice. Dice in India come in a rich and bewildering variety. The miscellany of traditional forms shows six-sided or cubic dice of the type familiar to Western players of board games as well as oblong or stick dice, where only four sides carry numerals, while in between come all manner of shapes and sizes that veer to one or other of these extremes. One can imagine the cabinet fall-front being opened after dinner revealing the drawers each with a different game; Pachisi, Chess, Cards, Backgammon, Cribbage and dominos.
H 25.5 cm x W 44 cm x D 44 cm
H 10¼" x W 17½" x D 17½"