Halsey Munson Americana
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Decatur, Illinois 62522
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Rare 18th C. Japanned Bible Box
Mid-18th C. English pine bible box in original japanned surface with polychrome figural decoration. This decorative style started, not surprisingly, in Japan in the 17th C., done there painstakingly with multiple coats of tinted lacquers. The style traveled to England in the early 18th C. (then to Boston and New York in the Mid-18th C). Japanning was used on everything from papier mache to highboys, usually in Oriental themes. But this is the first japanned bible box I’ve ever seen on these shores. Boxes like this were also used to store the periwigs that were obligatory for refined men and women of the period. Apparently, the box is all original with the possible exception of the lock which may be an early 19th C. replacement. Forged iron hinges with rosehead nails; the box is constructed with T-head nails. The decoration is definitely the work of a non-professional, perhaps a young woman educated in one of the seminaries, and the tableau on the lid appears to be a courting scene. 15½ x 10½ x 6¼”.