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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not sure that I have enough info about the box to get an accurate answer, but here is what I have.

My grandfather just passed this box down to me. He said that he got it in Sorrento Italy about 30 or more years ago. According to him it was made by a craftsman there who makes two of these boxes a year all by hand. My grandfather said that there has never been any sort of finish put on it, but he has never been a wood worker so I took that to mean that HE has never put anything on it. I don’t know if the craftsman put any kind of finish on it or not, but just by feeling it and looking at it up close I can’t tell that there is any finish so he may be right. There is defiantly not any kind of lacquer or poly or “film” finish on it (least I‘m pretty sure). I also have no idea what kind of wood the box or veneer is made out of.

As you can hopefully see in the pictures, the inlay (veneer? Inlayed veneer? Not sure what the correct term is) is starting to show small cracks. One corner has a pretty big crack, but that one looks like maybe a joint failed and caused another face to crack when the joint pulled away (hard to tell for sure).

I realize that there is no way to repair these cracks. At least none that I would dare to try. My question: Is there anything I can/should put on the box to prevent further cracking of the veneer? Do yall think that the cracking is caused by wood movement due to there not being any kind of finish on it, or is it caused by wood movement that would happen no matter what finish had ever been applied? If you do recommend putting something on it then it can’t change the color or yellow over time (I know that’s asking a lot and may be impossible).

If you need more info I’ll do my best and let me know if you need different pics. Thanks for any help.

These first two pics are of the box in general
IMG_0528.jpg
Image1.jpg

This pic just shows kind of how it is made up of hundreds of small pieces of wood.
IMG_0523.jpg

This is some of the cracking of the veneer.
IMG_0524.jpg

This is the crack that looks to me like a joint is pulling away and taking some of the other face with it.
IMG_0526.jpg
 

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it looks like you do have a finish on the box. could be oil, could be varnish, could be an oil varnish. i wouldnt try and fix yourself take it to a pro and get an estimate. i think you have more of a climit issue since there is no visual of impact. if it were mine i would leave it alone, you dont know what kind of reaction you may get with the glue that was used.
beautiful box. the time to cut the little squares alone must have taken forever not to mention the staining and then glueing in place wow, i see why he only made 2 a yr.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Yea, the thought of taking it to a pro definantly crossed my mind. But that brings up a few other questions. What kind of pro would I look for? Is there a special term for people who restore antiques? Or is there some other type of profesional I shoule be looking for? Also what should I look for in someone that distinguishes them from someone who knows what they are talking about versus someone who might do more damage than good? I have never had a need to find someone like that until now. Thanks for the suggestion!
Hendo
 

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I would not do any thing to the box. If you leave it alone it is worth more than if you fix it. Besides, it is a beautiful box and looks well made. I think any repairs would distract from it's beauty and charm.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
All good suggestions guys. Thanks for the responses. I think I will leave it alone as suggested. I was never really worried about the value since it is now a heirloom and have no plans to sell it. My main concern was making it last for several more generations. And now that I think about it, leaving it alone makes sense. Since it has lasted in pretty much the same condition for several decades now, I bet it will last for a few more decades on my display shelf as long as I can keep my 4 year olds hands off of it. Somehow my 4 year old can tell when I leave something nice or expensive out and gravitates toward it. I will put it up where she can't get to it. thanks again for the help.
Hendo
 
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