The cover of the 14ct box was decorated with a miniature portrait on ivory of the emperor, surrounded by silver-set paste stones.
He is wearing a general’s uniform and the insignia of the royal Hohenzollern order, the Order of the Red Eagle, and the Order of the Black Eagle. The maker’s mark WS shows it was the work of the goldsmith Carl Weishaupt & Söhne in Hanau, not far from Frankfurt, which executed numerous commissions for the Prussian royal family.
Master of horse
The engraved inscription on the inside of the lid identified the recipient as the German aristocrat Adolf von Holzing, onetime master of horse to the grand dukes of Baden.
He was presented with the box, which has remained in the family until now, on the occasion of the Centenarfeier (centenary celebration) of March 21-23, 1897, which marked the ‘100th birthday’ of Emperor Wilhelm I, who had died in 1888.
Lempertz was expecting €6000-8000 at the auction on May 16, but the bidders pushed the price to €40,000 (£35,090), with an online bidder making the running.