A RARE ENGLISH NEEDLEWORK CASKET c1650
Young girls made embroidered caskets in the 17th century after many years of training and practice.  A carpenter typically assembled the wooden box that served as the base for the needlework.  The silk satin ground, drawn with elaborate designs, was purchased from a workshop.  The motifs used were typically taken from nature, the bible, and life itself.  Then the real work began!

This extremely rare and beautiful 17th century casket/cabinet features biblical and secular themes embroidered in polychrome silk floss and silver-gilt metallic wrapped threads on an ivory silk ground.  One panel depicts a person swimming in a lake with a whale (presumably Jonah before the whale's meal); and a naked woman lying on the shore beneath a tower. The back of the casket has a gorgeous hunting scene, all worked in colored silks, chenille, and metal purl. The scenes include whimsical, beautifully rendered images of trees, flowers and foliage, birds and butterflies, castles, towers and tents, squirrels and snails, dogs and deer, and male and female figures.  The types of stitches used are many and beautifully executed.

 The casket’s front doors open to reveal four drawers covered in salmon-colored velvet.  Numerous secret compartments and sliding panels lie within the casket.  The top of the casket lifts on hinges to reveal several compartments, the largest a seven-inch square chamber with floor and walls padded and covered with pink tufted silk.  A delicate metal and silk trim forming a circumscribed flower design lies to one side. A marbled paper square on the inside of the lid is flanked with four swiveling metal clips that may have once held a mirror in place. The casket is bound with silver metal trim, and raised on gilded bun feet. Two original keys are included. Very good color; wear and losses in areas consistent with age, 12 1/4” W x 8 3/4” H x 9-1/2"D. Sold!

Note: This casket is currently being professionally conserved to improve its future preservation.  The casket comes with a custom-made clear Plexiglas box with base for protection against dust and light.

For more information contact:
Maureen Mayer
Silvermine Antiques
New Canaan, CT
(203) 966-1800
mmayerct@optonline.net.