This antique brass box was hand wrought in the form of a melon, probably a bitter melon given the profusion of repoussé bumps and ridges hammered into the metal. Cascading down the front are beautifully fashioned vines, along with a large leaf, ending in two bell-shaped flowers; the vines continue to meander down under the box. The box closes with a hand-fashioned pin latch of the type found on Ming Dynasty furniture. The lid has a small cylinder of brass protruding at its front, while the pin, pointed at one end and having a flat button of brass at the other, slides through a small cylinder at the top of the vines (it's partially open and pulled to the left in the photographs). There are several piercings in the lid; the box may have been used to burn incense, as there is a slight perfume scent inside (but no burnt residue). Although it's unmarked, we believe it to be Chinese.
This Asian treasure measures 5 1/2 inches wide, 4 inches high and almost 5 inches front to back. Made in the mid to late 1800's, it has a wonderful age-darkened patina with touches of verdigris. The brass is exquisitely thin, the condition very good and the workmanship very fine.