Saturday - 13 February 2016

Boulled over at £88,000

20 May 2013Written by Gabriel Berner

Possibly dating from the reign of Louis XIV, this fine boulle casket and stand was among an assortment of jewellery, silver, furniture and pictures at Thomas R. Callan’s sale in Ayr, south west Scotland.

Consigned from a prominent Scottish family in the local area, the piece was catalogued as "19th century" with an estimate of £4000-6000.

However, not only is it thought to be earlier, probably late 17th or early 18th century, it could also be the work of distinguished French ébéniste Nicolas Sageot (1666-1731), who specialised in the production of opulent commodes, armoires and desks in the early decades of the 18th century.

Commodes by Sageot crop up occasionally at auction, but portable caskets of this design, opening to reveal drawers and a writing desk, are highly unusual. Typical Bérainesque arabesques worked in tortoiseshell, brass, pewter, and stained horn adorn its surfaces.


13-05-20-2092NE01B boulle casket.jpg

Above: a detail of the £88,000 casket. 


It may have been brought over during the days of the Revolution by French aristocracy who had family ties in Scotland, the source of a number of other fine pieces of French furniture which have turned up on the Scottish market.

Measuring around 3ft 3in x 3ft 9in (1 x 1.15m) and in exceptional condition, it sold on May 4 for £88,000 (plus 17.5% buyer's premium) via the phone. The buyer is believed to be a French dealer operating out of Paris and the underbidder was from the UK trade.

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