In its pomp, the ‘lacquerware manufactory’ founded by Georg Siegmund Stobwasser (1717-76) in Brunswick in 1763 employed more than 50 people creating a wide range of papier-mâché and toleware luxuries. The signature Stobwasser production was the flat circular table snuff box decorated with miniature reproductions of popular Italian, French and Dutch paintings.
They were much imitated, but the best examples are signed inside with a distinctive red script, often with pattern number and sometimes with a subject name. Typically, they were decorated by a succession of talented German artists who learnt their trade at the Stobwasser painting school.
Birch Tree Gardens
The example offered at John Nicholson’s (25% buyer’s premium) in Haslemere on January 28 was in the top tier of Stobwasser boxes and decorated with a local scene. Measuring around 3½in (10cm) across, it was inscribed inside the cover Ansicht des Birbaumschen Gartens zu Braunschweig (View of the Birch Tree Gardens at Brunswick).
It was estimated at £1000-1500 but sold to an online bidder from Germany at £11,000.
Such prices are not unprecedented: a similar box offered for sale at Bamfords in Derby last September decorated with a vignette titled Vue du jardin du Palais-Royal près de la rotond went to an online bidder from Brunswick for £20,000.