Box in the shape of a book

Northern European
Medieval (Gothic)
mid-14th century

Object Place: Europe, Northern Europe


4.8 x 4.4 x 1.9 cm (1 7/8 x 1 3/4 x 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Silver (various pieces: 92.8-93.6% silver, 4.4-5.3% copper, 1.3-1.5% gold, .4-.8% lead)

Not On View





Box with front and back plates opening like a book and two loops soldered to either side. Hammered, engraved, and soldered. The sides comprise four sheets soldered at the corners with two rectangular framing bands soldered to the bottom on the inside. Two hinges and a clasp are soldered to the front and back plates. Engraved on the front against a cross-hatched ground is, on the outer rim, an inscription in black letter script beginning in the upper left and continuing clockwise around the border: SALVE SANCT(A) FACIES XPI(STI). A cross fills the upper left corner and debased square rosettes are placed in the upper right and lower left corners. Saint Margaret emerging from the dragon, holding her cross upright with both hands, is depicted in the center with seven rosettes dispersed over the cross-hatched ground and framed by cusped arches in the upper corners. She is shown in profile with her head turned slightly toward the viewer, wearing an unadorned close-fitting long-sleeved gown. The dragon is also shown in profile swallowing Margaret’s mantle. Engraved on a cross-hatched ground is an inscription on the back reading (clockwise) MELCHIOR IASPAR BALTHASAR and, in the center beneath cusped arches in the corners, a standing figure of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. She stands in three-quarter view wearing a crown and mantle gathered in the front and holding her two attributes, a spiked wheel and sword. Issuing from the undulating ground on which she stands are small linear plants, their two vertical vines bearing rosettes. On the base is a French control stamp datable after 1838 (Rosenberg 1928, p. 205, no. 5881).


1850, Toussaint Grille (b. 1766 - d. 1850), Angers, France; April 28, 1851, posthumous Grille sale, Palais de Marchands, Angers, lot 377 [see note 1]. Victoria, Queen of Prussia and Empress of Germany (b. 1840 - d. 1901), Friedrichshof, Kronberg, Germany [see note 2]. Possibly Joseph Brummer, New York [see note 3]. 1946, Blumka Gallery, New York; 1946, sold by Blumka to the MFA for $1000. (Accession Date: December 12, 1946)

[1] Lola Fondbertasse of the École du Louvre kindly provided this reference. [2] According to typed notes in the MFA curatorial file (source unknown; possibly from a sale catalogue). [3] According to notes in the MFA curatorial file (unverified).

Credit Line

Arthur Mason Knapp Fund