Fine Gilt Tooled Leather & Ormolu Writing Box by Fitzmaurice West, London.

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An outstanding black leather and gilt tooled writing box with ormolu and mother of pearl accessories by Fitzmaurice West, London, circa.1840-77 (please read 'The Maker' below for more information on F. West).

The exterior boasts gilt foliate detail to all sides and opens via a Bramah lock to reveal an interior of rich blue velvet, ebony veneer and flame mahogany. The attention to detail is such that even the key is embossed with delicate foliate decoration. The box has its original ormolu inkwell and vesta which are exceptional. The inkwell is opened via a spring mechanism operated by a button to the fore; this still functions perfectly. The lift-out tray is inset with a double armorial matrix seal, a pencil, rule and scissors etc. The white metal pencil and rule, together with the mother of pearl seal and pair of compasses are original. The letter opener, scissors, pen and further mother of pearl items are historically replaced. The pen knife is absent.

The velvet slope lifts to reveal a flame mahogany compartment beneath. The two tooled leather compartments lift to reveal two pocket folders to their underside with brass clasps and a further flame mahogany compartment beneath. 

The exterior has some scuffing the extremities in areas. The interior remains in an excellent condition. 

The Maker

Fitzmaurice West established himself as a cutler and dressing case manufacturer in 1839 and became one of the appointed manufacturers to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, the Duchess of Kent and other members of the Royal Family.

It is likely that West was a former employee of George Palmer, also a cutler and dressing case manufacturer, and they shared a premises based at 1 St James’s Street, London. West moved his business to 2 St James’s Street, London in 1877 and later, in 1883, to 9 King Street, St James’s, London. This writing case is stamped '1 James's Street' thus can be accurately dated to between 1840 and 1877.

West exhibited his dressing cases, writing cases and travelling bags at the International Exhibition of 1862. Along with fellow dressing case manufacturer Charles Bazin, West was on the panel of jurors for the International Exhibition presiding over the category of ‘Dressing Cases, Despatch Boxes and Travelling Cases’. This position precluded West from having his own exhibits judged, however the following was documented in the ‘International Exhibition 1862 – Reports By The Juries On The Subjects In The Thirty-Six Classes Into Which The Exhibition Was Divided’ (Peter Le Neve FOSTER, John Frederick ISELIN (the Elder) 1863), “The Jury consider it a duty to state their opinion with respect to the collections exhibited by Mr. F. West and Messrs. M. & B. [Mechi & Bazin], and to declare that, but for the exceptional and honourable position which they hold, they would have placed them in the first order of merit”.


Dimensions (closed)

Length: 38cm

Depth: 30.5cm

Height: 13cm



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