A rare Charles II carved boxwood screw-action nutcracker, dated 1664
Lot 1013
A rare Charles II carved boxwood screw-action nutcracker, dated 1664
Sold for £8,750 (US$ 14,518) inc. premium
Auction Details
The Oak Interior Chester
25 Apr 2013 10:00 BST

Auction 21122
A rare Charles II carved boxwood screw-action nutcracker, dated 1664 A rare Charles II carved boxwood screw-action nutcracker, dated 1664 A rare Charles II carved boxwood screw-action nutcracker, dated 1664
Lot Details
A rare Charles II carved boxwood screw-action nutcracker, dated 1664
Of spherical form, the rim of the opening chip-carved with triangles above two bands of text reading 'AS : GOD : HATH : A : APPOIN/TED : SO : I : M (struck out) : AM : CONTENTED', the scroll-carved screw finial carved with the date '1664' and the initial 'M', (bearing a paper label to interior reading '3.7.56, 7/-/-, Carved Boxwood'), 7cm wide including handle x 5cm high including handle

Footnotes

  • Provenance: Purchased for £7 in July 1956.

    This rare dated screw-action nutcracker is similar in form to an example dated 1631 [sold by Christie's, 4th November 1998, Lot 1004, for £5290] illustrated in R. Mills, Nutcrackers (2001), p. 33, and which is the earliest known dated screw-action nutcracker. Screw-action nutcrackers were popular throughout the 17th century, but appear to have been superseded by those which worked on the lever principle in the following centuries. Like so many screw-action nutcrackers, faint teeth marks are visible to the screw's terminal.

    The verse on this nutcracker is not quoted directly from the Bible, but it is possible that it is paraphrasing a verse from Paul's First letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:9), 'For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men'. It is thought that Paul wrote this letter c. 56 AD to the church in Corinth, to address and correct the immorality and divisions that had arisen among them.

    In 1664 - incidentally the same year which is carved on this nutcracker - John Evelyn published his Silva: Or a Discourse on Forest Trees, and noted on p. 293 that 'buxus, the box...so continually sought after for many utensils, being so hard, close and pondrous as to sink like lead in water, and therefore of special use for the turner, ingraver, carver, mathematical-instrument, comb and pipe-makers...also of box are made wheels or shivers (as our ship-carpenters call them) and pins for blocks and pullies; pegs for musical instruments; nut-crackers, weavers-shuttles, hollar-sticks, bump-sticks, and dressers for the shooe-maker, rulers, rolling-pins, pestles, mall-balls, beetles, topps, tables, chess-men, screws, male and female, bobins for bone-lace, spoons...' etc.
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