A circular, silver bound shagreen box by John Paul Cooper, the silver wire with his first beetle mark of circa 1905, the walnut carcass most probably made by Augustus Mason.
John Paul Cooper (1869-1931) trained as an architect for a number of years and worked in the offices of J. D. Sedding and Henry Wilson. In 1897, on Wilson's advice, he took up metalwork. He specialised in the use of unusual materials, notably shagreen, which he began using in 1903, long before it became fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s. Cooper taught at the Birmingham School of Art, where he was head of the metalwork department from 1904 to 1907 later moving to Kent where he finally set up workshop in his house, which he designed himself, at Westerham. He was largely responsible for reviving the use of shagreen. A critic writing in the London Times around 1920 stated that 'Mr. Cooper's work in shagreen, or shark skin, mounted in silver and made into boxes and caskets, is now generally accepted as perfect of its kind.'