A Very Rare 18th Century Architectural Etui

circa 1720
4 3/8 x 1 1/8 in, (10.9 x 2.8 cm)

The octagonal body unscrews into 5 sections, the lower part modelled as a turret chased with bricks and windows below a central section of open slats, pellets and quatrefoils and the onion domed top with ball finial

3950 GBP

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This remarkable little etui is probably Danish as it appears to be modelled on the Octagonal Tower at the Palace of Frederiksbourg, Hillerod, Denmark. The castle was built for King Christian IV (1577-1648) on the site of an older palace of Frederick II from which the later building took its name. It was built in the “Dutch Style” by the architects Hans and Lorenz Steenwinckel between 1602 and 1620.

This etui is somewhat similar to German etuis of around 1720-40 which usually have a heavily worked surfaces of wrigglework or basket-weave.

The circular base unscrews to reveal a shallow compartment; the main octagonal body unscrews into 2 sections, one of which has a pierced cover probably for use as a sander or pounce pot, the other has a screw cover set with a removable spool, possibly a pipe tamper. The upper section with the wavy rim supporting the openwork slats has a detachable onion domed finial.

The purpose of this delightful piece is not certain but probably either a writing etui or for sewing. If the latter the spool would be for winding thread and the open section for storing needles. However, Michael Finlay in Western Writing Implements In The Age Of The Quill Pen, illustrates a German penner, page 145, plate 198 c.1740 and other penners that have similar compartments.