What is this silver box

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It’s electroplate made by E G Webster & Son of Brooklyn, New York. The lettering reads EGW&S.



In 1886 E.G. Webster formed a new partnership with his son Fred under the name of E.G. Webster & Son. The business continued until 1928 when the firm was sold.

So your box was sold between 1886 and 1928. There are two possibilities on manufacture. One is the box was mass produced using stamp dies for the repousse work and engraving and the other is that the work was in fact done by hand, probably in Japan, and marketed out of the 14 Maiden Lane, NY, NY showroom. Because the electroplated would have been done after the handwork it would have made the engraving less crisp and because it is crisp and it would have been cheaper to stamp it, that is the most likely manufacturing process.

Given taste and fashion demand the most probable period of sale and manufacture would be between 1880 and 1895. I am presuming this is a jewellery or curio box for a lady’s dressing table. It may have or have had a compartmentalized silk or velvet lined interior.

While the intrinsic value isn’t very high, it’s a very collectable box with an interesting cartoon of a couple who are together in the first panel, then they step away from each other, then the husband finds a mistress who eventually leaves him to drink alone! The moral of the story: be faithful to your partner or you will lose her and the young mistress will leave you eventually too.

It is difficult to know why a late 19th century husband would buy this box for either his wife or his mistress unless he actually wanted to dispose of one or both of them.