A stunning and early antique silver-gilt and full painted enamel singing bird box, by Karl Griesbaum,
German, circa 1912
Retailed by Turner & Simpson, Birmingham
Watch the birdy...
When wound and the bird-form start/stop button slid to the right, the bird appears moving its highly polished beak as the tailfeather bobs up and down and the wings flap, to synchronised continuous birdsong.
The fine feathered plumaged bird with predominant coverage of iridescent green, speckled yellow and bright fired red against the dark brown undertone, rises through the bird-shaped centrum gilt metal grille with surmount also chased and pierced with ribbons, leaves and autumn berries, gilt matt finished lid interior and the border of intertwining matt and polished banner and arrow-head points.
In the outstanding silver-gilt case, hallmarked for both the year and the retailer's mark, the main lid top including the bird lid incorporating the full-width view of a clap-net set to bankside path between oak trees. Stone dwellings are on both sides of the mature green meadow banks and a town is seen in the distance before twin mountain peaks. The migratory birds seen in the sky above the seated clap-net line operator with his lady in 18th century country dress beneath tree and hedgerow to the right. Two ladies are seen admiring a tree to the left are in flowing red dresses.
There is a single white enamel frame between the tooled frieze border, the corners tooled with wave-line tooth columns flanked by twin vertical panels of cat's eyes with tooled centres on light lime green enamel ground, topped and tailed with black and white enamel keys and framed in with more black enamel.
The front enamel panel showing a large chateau before a river and wide waterfall cascade bridged by mature trees and down meadows, within an oval crest on deep blue enamel with white enamel framing.
The theme is repeated to the rear showing the chateau's estate dwellings down-stream under the pink-hued sky, matching blue and white enamel framing, and the sides with fine central diamond-tooled medallions with pierced cross infils, green border, on that familiar and pleasing deep blue square ground. The tops of each panel to all sides have light blue wheat sprays against deep blue, above intermediate white enamel arches and further tooled framing throughout. The underside with duet tooled frames and matt ground to the centre.
size - 3.7/8in. wide, 2.5/8in. deep, 1.3/4in. high - (9.7 x 6.6 x 4.5cm)
Point of interest -
Does this silver-gilt and enamel singing bird box look familiar? Take a look at stock number 1414 and you will see a close resemblance.
This method of catching birds using clap-nets was commonplace to obtain fowl for the creation of certain dishes in chateau kitchens during the late 18th century.
This singing bird box being earlier than stock number 1414, makes for a highly educational exercise in similar-study comparisons. Completed by most probably the same artist, they have made sure that the content of each picture remains individual to the box - one has fewer birds, the other has less tree branch growth and indeed when one looks very closely with the aid of a loupe, you can clearly see that the positions of the clothes, the stance of the people and the whole geography is different. The artist has not copied the study, simply enhanced the same view with brush direction given its own unique merit.
Pre-1920 model No. 7 boxes are much prized for their quality of tooling - perhaps as then being a new-in model, they wished to impress. Today, they do nothing but impress us.