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  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1879 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Girandon & Réal (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cedarwood covered in shagreen

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This cedar-wood box is covered in shagreen, the leathery skin of a rayfish or shark. Shagreen is prized for its rare and glamorous surface, and is used for covering small luxury items. The box was originally part of the Animal Products collection, begun in 1853 at the suggestion of Prince Albert, who advised on the formation of the museum. and suggested a collection of manufactured items made from natural raw materials, divided into animal, vegetable and mineral categories. The Animal Products collection was one of the collections displayed at the branch museum in Bethnal Green, in the East End of London, when it opened in 1872. This casket was part of the fish skins collection. Made by Girandon & Réal in Paris, it was bought from the London shop Howell & James in 1879, for £5.5.0.

Physical description

Cedar wood box, covered in shagreen, rectangular, pale grey.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca. 1879 (made)


Girandon & Réal (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Cedarwood covered in shagreen

Marks and inscriptions

paper label on base


Height: 6.5 cm, Width: 11.3 cm, Length: 17.5 cm

Object history note

This formed part of the Animal Products collection which was one of the original collections displayed at Bethnal Green when the Museum opened in 1872. Much of the material came from the Great Exhibition, and the collections continued to be added to until 1917. Less than half of the Animal Products Collection survived by 2000. Half had been transferred to different departments and half remained at Bethnal Green. In 2000 departments at the V&A were offered suitable items. Another quarter of the original collection was transferred, the remainder was offered to the Archive of Art and Design, at Blythe House, along with the original registers. BGMC kept a small selection of other items for display in conjunction with the History of the Museum information panel.

The original Collection of Animal Products register (copy on transfer file 2000/932) indicates that it was made by Girandon & Réal, 48, rue Molière, Paris. It was bought by the museum at the London shop Howell & James, Regent Street, for five pounds ten shillings. It was part of the collection of fish skins.

AP.4 to 20-1879 came from the same source.

Descriptive line

Cedarwood box covered in pale grey shagreen, made by Girandon & Real, ca. 1879, Paris


Cedar; Shagreen




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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