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probably made in Spa, Belgium

Postcard of Box.
© National Museums Scotland


This wooden box, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and brass, is believed to have been made in the town of Spa, in the Ardennes in Belgium. It is an example of an early secular souvenir, dating from around 1680.

The box top has a central mother-of-pearl medallion with a landscape scene surrounded by a design of cornucopias, birds, moths and flowers. The flower stems are of inlaid brass.

The souvenir industry at Spa seems to have developed from the production of walking staffs or staves. Wealthy visitors taking the spa waters for their health would have had plenty of time to walk around the local shops, looking for mementos to take home.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-943-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  A.1948.87 A
Date: Around 1680
Late 17th century
Material: Wood
What: Tray, box
Subject: Woodwork : caskets and boxes
Where: Netherlands
Description: Sliding tray fitted below the compartments of a box of wood inlaid in engraved and tinted mother-of-pearl: probably Dutch, late 17th century
  • Evans, G. Souvenirs From Roman Times to the Present Day. Edinburgh: NMS Publishing Ltd, 1999, pp 10-11. 
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