Plymouth carved oak box

17th century carved oak box, English. Originally with a wire-hinged cover, now sliding, and carved with a pair of foliate roundels flanking a pair of opposing hearts and within a dog-tooth border, both long sides carved with a pair of coats of arms, the first those of Plymouth, argent, a saltire vert between four Towers sable, the second with the legend or motto ‘IN THE LORD IS ALL OUR TRUST’, and with heart spandrels, both ends carved with a compass star with letters to the cardinal points.

This box bears the coat of arms of the city of Plymouth argent, a saltire vert between four towers sable. The coat of arms in the second roundel is almost certainly meant to be that of the Worshipful Company of Freemasons as it bears their motto, ‘In the Lord is all our Trust’. It has been rendered incorrectly, however, with four towers, rather than three, and with a ground hatched to indicate the tincture azure, rather than sable. In all other particulars, however, it strongly resembles the Freemasons’ arms, which were sable, on a chevron between three towers argent, a pair of compasses open chevronwise of the first.

The compass, with four cardinal points, carved on one of the ends of the box, suggests that it might have been used to hold scientific or nautical instruments.

Origin: Plymouth, Devon
Date: Circa 1660 - 1680
Dimensions: Width 10" x Height 5" x Depth 5"
Stock Number: Marh2066