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Dutch Colonial, Indonesia, 17th century, Casket. Photo courtesy Sotheby's

tortoiseshell, on a wood core with silver mounts, the interior lined with red velvet; 16 by 22cm., 6¼ by 8 5/8 in. Estimate 3,000-5,000 GBP

NOTE: The incised silver mounts with foliate designs on the present casket compare closely with those adorning another tortoiseshell coffer from the Dutch East Indies, formerly known as Batavia, modern-day Indonesia, which was offered at Sotheby's Zurich on 3 April 1981, lot 31. Note the handles with their similar flower petal mount plates. A particularly delightful detail of the present casket is the fictive keyhole in the centre of the lockplate; the real keyhole is only revealed once the clasp is lifted.

Demand for tortoiseshell goods flourished in Europe after Catherine of Austria, Queen of Portugal (1507-1578), adopted it as her material of choice for exotic diplomatic gifts. Many tortoiseshell objects were traded by the Dutch East India Company, or V.O.C., and this example would undoubtedly have been made for the European market.

Sotheby's. European Sculpture & Works of Art: Medieval to Modern. London | 02 juil. 2013 www.sothebys.com