Sometimes referred to as a hobnail safe, our iron plated safe (circa 1840) has several decorative bands affixed with nails that resemble the sole of hobnailed boots. A fascinating feat of 19th century Italian craftsmanship, one of the nails can be pressed upwards to reveal a swinging door that covers the lock. The keyplate door is also cleverly disguised, as there is an identical burin incision on the opposite side of the rectangular face plate that is pierced with scrolls and curves.
There are multiple incised motifs surrounding the plate, including stylized flowers and symmetric geometric designs. At the bottom of the safe is a gold Neoclassical embellishment of a lyre surrounded by angels with foliate rinceaux tails (known as genii, which are akin to a guardian angel).
Safes with complex opening sequences such as ours were found in Northern Italy during the 19th century. A masterful piece of engineering with a natural patina, the iron plated safe can still be used functionally to store valuables. The safe could also be converted into a unique liquor cabinet or decorative box for a gentleman’s study or game room.
CONDITION: Good antique condition with minor oxidation and rubs to the exterior. Light scratches and buildup to the interior, commensurate to age and use. White patched circular area visible from inside where safe may have been bolted to a wall. Key included for functional hidden lock.