Secret storage box

[Book Box]. An apothecary's secret storage box, concealed in a 17th century folio.

Probably Germany, 19th century.

Using the binding and block of: Sebastião Barradas, SJ, Opera omnia, vol. III (Mainz, Mylius, 1640). 674 pages, all edges red, pasted together, hollowed out (interior space: 158 x 280 mm) and lined with red marbled paper, filled with 10 small drawers and a mirror-lined compartment holding four identical glass bottles. Early 18th century full leather gilt, spine richly gilt in seven compartments, spine labels reading "R. P. Barradii Opera", "Tomus III". Folio (230 x 348 mm).


A curious late 19th century concoction, using an inconspicuous mid-17th-century volume of theology in a slightly later binding to conceal a miniature chest of drawers with space for four bottles measuring up to ca. 10 cms. The German-language drawer labels bear the names of poisonous plants: banewort, Devil's snare, hemlock, wormwood, henbane and foxglove, among others. The pastedown bears a large memento-mori illustration with a Latin quote from the Epistle to the Hebrews (9:27): "Statutum est hominibus semel mori" ("All men are destined to die once").

Front cover slightly warped, but well preserved in all. An appealing ensemble, probably an elaborate private prank.

Stock Code: BN#47492 Tags: , , ,