Jan & John Maggs

Antiques and Art

Small 18th century oak box with punch-carved menorah on its lid

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A tiny oak box with punch decoration on its face and lid. While its diminutive size is in itself remarkable, even more unique is the nine-branch Hanukkah menorah punched into its lid. The menorah is framed by a large, punch-decorated rectangle, with a graceful arch in each corner. On the face of the box are the initials “W C” and the date “1764”, framed like the menorah, but with only scratched lines and without corner decorations. The edges of the lid and the protruding three sides of the bottom were finished with an attractively planed shape.

The English dealer from whom we purchased it described it as a “Jewish marriage box”. We’re not familiar enough with Jewish tradition to speak with authority, but it seems likely that its decoration commemorates an event, perhaps a wedding.

Even without its decoration, the box would be noteworthy for its size and condition. Fashioned of six thin oak boards, it was assembled with simple butt joints, nailed together at the front and rear edges. Although the bottom is covered with green baize, it is reasonable to assume that it, too, is nailed to the front, back, and sides. The lid is fitted with nicely shaped cleats at its edges. These are nailed in place, and the lid was secured with fine wire hinges. Although they have failed, the original hinges are still in place, and new hinges were applied more than a century ago.

A lovely early box with significant history. We’ve never seen another.

English, 1764 or earlier

Lid: 11 ¼” X 8 ¼”; Height: 6 ¼”

SOLD

Free domestic shipping is available on this piece

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Inventory #26336

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