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4036 A Very Rare Rolled Paperwork Coaster


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'Rolled paperwork' as it is usually called, was an art-form practised in the late 18th century, and which because of its fragility and construction was liable to damage both physical and from the effects of daylight.  Very few examples survive in bright, unfaded condition. It used to be said that it was a pursuit of ladies of the leisured classes, but there is ample evidence that it was the product of a commercial business.  It was also known as 'curled paperwork', and contemporaneously, as 'paper filigree'.

The coaster is made of sycamore wood variously stained and inlaid, and with a central roundel of yew-wood.  It is inlaid with fine corded stringing lines and a circlet of stylised leaves, but it is the outside surface which is of prime interest.  Between the stringing lines, there is a broad band of rolled paperwork in deep blue-green bordered with gilded scrolls (almost vitruvian scrolls) and fronds of foliage - also gilded.

The coaster is in bright and excellent condition, although there is a small blemish in the wooden base.

All examples of rolled paperwork coasters, tea caddies, and boxes appear to be made from the same type of timber - sycamore, and all have a similar varnish (unless they have been restored, and re-polished), and which is seldom, if ever, seen in other circumstances.  They also feature similar stringing lines and many have the leaf inlay.  All these features point to a single manufacturer - particularly as the varnish would have been the final job before being finished.

This example is considerably better than the one illustrated in my book - "Great British Wine Accessories 1550 - 1900" (pl. 10/49)

Date: c.1790

Dimensions: 5", 12.7 cm. external, 4.4",11.2 cm. internal

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