The lid with a large, central moulded panel decorated with a figure of a lion on a sprung lock plate with repairs to the base. Surrounded by large acanthus leaves, with losses on one side and a repair to a break on another where the acanthus leaves hide a secret release mechanism. Surrrounded by six moulded panels on either side, and faced with a moulded edge incised ‘III’. Original hinges. The key operating a mechanism to the interior of the lid throwing 12 bolts and revealing an engraved brass lock plate decorated with the Imperial Coat of Arms of the Hapsburgs, the crown above the double-headed eagle holding a sword and sceptre in its claws. Two grotesque masks either side. The four seasons in each corner, with Spring represented by a cherub with a basket of flowers, Summer by a reclining cherub drinking from a cup, Autumn by a cherub with a bundle of corn, and Winter by a clothed man sitting by a fire. The frieze with an applied border of shells top and bottom. The center panel applied with a double-headed eagle holding a sword and sceptre in its claws, projecting from two crowns enclosing a false escutcheon within acanthus leaves and a pair of swords. The twin hasp fittings with female-headed terms emerging from a spray of acanthus leaves. The corners with female-terms. The sides with original handles and maskheads. Standing on six bun feet.
The double-headed eagle holding a sword and sceptre in its claws was used in the 17th century by Holy Roman Emperors, suggesting that this piece was made for either Charles V or Joseph I. The quality of the workmanship of this chest is outstanding throughout. The fact that it is marked ‘III’ suggests that it was one of a set which almost certainly stood in one of the palaces storing valuable documents and artefacts. Further research is currently being undertaken.