Casket with cuir ciselé leather

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15th century
oak, stamped leather, iron, Brass, linen
5.3 cm
10.6 cm
9 cm

E. Berger, Prunk-Kassetten: Europäische Meisterwerke aus acht Jahrhunderten, Stuttgart 1998, pp. 111 - 116, cat. no. 45.

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This oak box is covered with stamped leather and bound with brass bands. On the flat lid of the box are floral motifs and a text in Gothic script, against a stamped background. The same motifs and text recur on the sides of the box. The back of the box is decorated with eight pointed leaves. The iron clasp-lock has a square lockplate. The lid is decorated with five bands ending in a star shape, the corners and sides with two bands. The edges are reinforced with copper. The inside of the box is lined with blue colored linen.

The leather was worked using the 'cuir ciselé' technique: damp leather was stamped with a sharp and pointed tool, whereby the background of the decoration was punched out. From around 1300, leather cuir ciselé objects, such as chests and book covers, were made for the aristocracy and the clergy. The leather boxes, sometimes painted, were used to keep documents, money, jewellery and other valuables. The motifs and design, often with Gothic texts, were influenced by copperplate engravings.  


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