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