Saturday, 16 August 2014

Saturday.


Realised it is a while since I showed a 'MYSTERY OBJECT'. Both of these photographs are mystery objects.   I think most of you will guess the purpose for which the above small box  was made. The point is - when do you think it was made, and most importantly
where?
By the way, the inlaid stones in the lid are mother o' pearl and carnelian (I think).



Now this one really is a mystery object, and I must admit that I don't know the answer. I do know that it appears to be a piece chipped off a flint nodule a long time ago. It has then been decorated with a double line of dots and several lines cut into it, so that it resembles a beetle or 'scarab'. It is about one and three quarter inches long and just over an inch across. It came into my possession a good many years ago when I kicked it out of an ancient Suffolk trackway.     I would love to know where it was made and why. All (sensible) suggestions as to its origin gratefully received.

12 comments:

Crowbard said...

Can't make much of the origin of the snuffbox, Mike. The central motif seems to be an unbalanced mix of a Manx triskelion and a Hindu swastika (Sanskrit svastika, "all is well"). The hinge looks very tidy and the general oddity of the decoration looks vaguely Malaysian but was probably made about 1830 in Japan by an apprentice with a hangover. I like it a lot. Must give your neolithic discovery a bit more thought.

Crowbard said...

I can't see the scarab but clearly there are two elements on this stone. The lines of dots which might be used as 'tally-sticks' and the linear grooves which might be ownership identifiers like masons marks. The linear marks are not unlike fore-runners of the Scandinavian runes but do not match exactly any of the early (800 AD) nor the standardised (1000 AD)runes that I know of, hence the idea of an individual 'signature mark'. Alternatively it may be a gaming piece or one of a fortune casting set. Possibly circa 700 - 800 AD or even earlier.

Rog said...

Lovely little snuff box! I would have thought earlier, say, 1790? Look forward to learning WHERE though. It looks vaguely Northern European to me.

Your stone was definitely made in Suffolk. ;-)

Margaret Brocklehurst said...

Mark doesn't think it is any form of rune stone (he has been studying Runes). He feels maybe hyroglyphics of some form?

Margaret Brocklehurst said...

mark thinks the markings are Arabic?

Crowbard said...

In view of your recent holiday I think Rog may be close in placing the snuff-box in Northern Europe. In consideration of the slightly 'odd' design, how about Saami ware?

Crowbard said...

m'Lord Mark's idea is well observed. The Arabic letter kaaf (equivalent to our 'k')is very similar to the central motif on the stone. Some Arabs returned with the crusaders and it is probable that earlier Arab sailors and traders visited Suffolk's shores.

Mike and Ann said...

Now I think I will have to justify my answer to the top mystery object, and will try to do so. I have examined, over the years, about fifteen of these attractive little boxes, almost all with mother o' pearl inlay and some with carnelian (?) inlay as well. All of them have the well coloured brass, and all engraved with well executed stylised foliage engraving to the brass that irresistibly reminds me of the engraving one finds on country made lantern clocks (writ smaller of course). I have one before me as I type engraved with the usual decoration to the upper part, and on the lower half engraved with 'John Butterfield, Mary Butterfield, William Butterfield,Doncaster, and the date 1694. These things were, I'm sure, produced in England, and when there's a place name, it's always somewhere in the north of England. I've only ever found one real reference to them in an old book on snuffboxes, and it refers to them as Commonwealth boxes, although, I've never seen one quite that early.
I think Roger got the nearest to them, guessing eighteenth century and Northern Europe. Back in a min - got to take a 'phone call, I'm told.

Mike and Ann said...

Back again. Now for the second 'mystery object'. Crowbard - you may well be right, but it still has a look of a rather stylised early scarab to me, although I can't really see any possible connexion between an Egyptian artifact and a neolithic one.
However, I've learned a lot from you all, thank you. Especial thanks to Maggie's Mark, and please will you pass them on to him , Maggie? I always enjoy sharing knowledge.

kippy said...

Could the snuffbox be Scottish in origin? Carnelian was a stone commonly used in antique Scottish jewelry.
Perhaps the second item is something brought back from the Crusades, if the writing is Arabic.

kippy said...

Guessing the second item might be a souvenir brought back from the Crusades due to the possible Arabic writing.
The snuff box might be Scottish. A lot of antique Scottish jewelry uses carnelian and similar stones.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Kippy - yes, that is a very valid point about the use of carnelian, although usually at that time, the Scottish used horn snuff mulls, and in my experience, when there's a name and place engraved on these boxes (which is rare) it tends to be in the North, or North West, of England. We still need to know more about them.