India | c. 1800
A SADELI WORK BOX
Height 4 ½ “ (11.5cm)
Width 12 5/8 ” (32cm)
Depth 9” (23cm)
The rectangular work box of wood, the exterior surfaces with sadeli panels edged in ebony and ivory, the hinged lid with a large central panel of green and star motif sadeli work bordered by ivory and sadeli, edged in ebony and ivory, with sadeli panels to the sides of the lid, the hinged lid with an inset mirror to the underside with ivory and sadeli borders, lifting to reveal a sandalwood interior with eighteen compartments, three with sadeli lids with silver ring handles, two with ivory and sadeli removable trays, six with pierced ivory platforms holding an assortment of ivory bobbins ( two with sadeli tops ), a thimble and a ribbon holder, one with a removable sandalwood pin cushion with a dark blue velvet top and sadeli edges, a silver locking pin to the front edge, removing to release a slim frieze drawer below, the drawer fitted with a dark blue velvet lined writing slope edged in sadeli and with adjustable supports, a pen tray to the left hand side, and three compartments to the right hand side, one with a sadeli lid and a silver ring handle, the sides of the box all with conforming sadeli panels edged in ebony and ivory and with silver carrying handles to the sides, a silver key escutcheon to the front.
There is a comparable sadeli work box, made in Bombay circa 1801-2, in the National Trust Clive Collection at Powis Castle, Powys, discussed in Dr. Amin Jaffer’s book, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, pp.313-314.
The box had been sent to the 2nd Lord Clive from Bombay and was described in an accompanying letter in 1802 ‘as being of peculiar workmanship that is greatly esteemed here, and to be procured only from one man, a Persee, which renders them very scarce’.