English. First Half of The Nineteenth Century.


Height: 17" (43 cm); Width: 9 1/2" (24 cm); Depth: 9 1/2" (24 cm).

Of walnut. The ovoid stepped body containing twenty three trays. 19 trays , numbered 1 – 13, and 21-24, with 25 not numbered, due to its obvious last position, contain a total of 243 cut-out locating circles for specific coins. The larger trays above the step are likely very old design amendment, presumably to expand the collection capacity The domed top replaced. The whole raised on a flared socle above a square plinth mounted with four roundels, three of which are replaced.

This highly unusual collector’s vase is comprised of twenty three circular stacked trays; nineteen of these are fitted with circular cut-outs to accommodate altogether 243 specific medals or coins, while four ‘open’ trays without circular divisions, would have freely contained coins of different sizes. When assembled together on their central threaded rod, the trays form the shape of a classical urn. Such a rare form of container would have been a personalized commission, most likely destined for a library in a grand residence of an aristocratic connoisseur-collector; both the classical form of the vase and its purpose can be seen a testament to the education and taste of its owner.

Along with increased interest in the study and acquisition of antiquarian artifacts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, came the need for collector’s cabinets to contain, display or safeguard these treasures. Such cabinets were not infrequently designed to relate to their contents, and were decorated with, or took the form of, elements of classical architecture. Notable examples include  ‘His Majesty’s Grand Medal Case’ which adapted Corinthian columns and a triangular pediment inspired by the shape of a Roman funerary stele, made for the Prince of Wales by William Vile in 1760, and a medal cabinet in the form of a temple attributed to George Sandeman in the collection of the Duke of Atholl at Blair Castle (figure 1).

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.