Thermoplastic is familiar to many collectors of early unique images because one of its major uses was in cases for ambrotypes, tintypes and even daguerreotypes, although it came late in the daguerreian era.
This is 10-inches high, plus the original legs. The top is 11 ½ x 15-inches, made of burled walnut veneer, on which is set a 7 x 10 3/4-inch thermoplastic panel depicting a scene, appropriate to its function, of Bacchus and a goat, with other cherubic figures reveling. This first use of plastic, in the 1850’s and ’60’s, was as a fine art medium, because it could be molded with fine details. This scene is not known to have been used in cases, but it may be based, as other similar scenes, on some work of art. The front is 5 ½ x 13 inches, with a 4 ½ x 10 ¾- inch panel with an image of cherubs holding a cameo of a goddess. The sides each have 4 ¾ x 10 ¾- inch decorative thermoplastic panels, with extra extension panels.
The hinged top lifts, along with the front, to reveal a decorative tray that would hold 4 decanters of spirits and a number of small glasses. This tray can be removed. The side panels can also swing open.
This is quite a showpiece, and a masterpiece of thermoplastic art. The panels and the wood veneer are fine without damage. There is some minor bumping on the outermost wood edges.