A superb hand made divided cutlery tray, this rustic yet refined antique dates from the nineteenth century. Made of tulip poplar wood, probably in one of the New England states, it has retained most of its original, and only, coat of black paint, worn in all the expected areas: Handle, upper edges of sides and handhold. The bottom, also painted, has sustained scratches and wear, but also still has most of its paint. All of the paint is finely alligatored, creating a wonderful aged surface.
This piece is expertly constructed, with all four canted sides chamfered at the corners and further secured with tiny brads. The base slightly projects from the sides and is attached with handmade nails. The high turned handle is joined to the divider with the mortise and tenon technique. The divider is gracefully curved at each end and cut out in the center to provide a handhold.
This handsome cutlery tray (aka cutlery box, knife box, knife tray) measures 12 inches long on the outside and 8 1/2 inches long on the interior. The tray part is 2 1/2 inches tall; up to the top of the handle measures 5 inches tall. It is 8 1/2 inches from front to back and weighs 3/4 pound. In excellent condition, with no breaks, cracks or other damage, this antique cutlery tray is a choice piece of American primitive décor.