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Tortoiseshell & Pique Singing Bird Box

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Tortoiseshell & Pique Singing Bird Box

- Item No.

Item Details

  • Width:
    4 Inches
  • Height:
    1 1/2 Inches
  • Depth:
    2 5/8 Inches
  • Period:
    19th Century
  • Origin:
This rare and magnificent bird box or tabatiére movement exhibits superior design and quality. Fine tortoiseshell envelops the entire piece, while the fine feathered mechanical bird pops out from beneath the sumptuously engraved lid. Exquisite gold and mother-of-pearl pique accents the impeccable veneer, and a small compartment at the posterior contains the box's winding key. This box is a work of sublime artistry.

Circa 1835

4" wide x 2 5/8" deep x 1 1/2" high

Mechanical singing bird boxes initially appeared in the 1780s as toys for royalty and wealthy noblemen. Today, these wonderful boxes continue to delight and are highly sought after by collectors. Known as a tabatière in France (from the French word for tobacco, for they resemble tobacco or snuff boxes) each box conceals a richly colored, hand-feathered miniature bird. When the lid is opened, the bird appears and sings a lovely tune, while moving his beak and flapping his wings. When the birdsong is complete, the tiny creature slips back into the box and the lid closes behind it. Elaborately ornamented, a painstaking and costly process is required to create just one of these treasures, and each piece is wonderfully unique. 

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Price: $12,850
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