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‘Aquarium’ cigar boxes by Alfred Dunhill, 1950

Reference: 6841, 6842

Alfred Dunhill, London

Two extremely sought-after ‘Aquarium’ cigar or cigarette boxes created for Dunhill by Ben Shillingford (English, 1904-2000). The sides of each box are in satinwood veneer and inlaid to the top of each is a Perspex panel, hand carved, painted in reverse and then silver leafed to give an iridescence, each illustrating four tropical fish in an aquatic scene, swimming amongst detailed rocks, plants and reeds. The plain, cedar lined interiors each have an inlaid ‘Dunhill London’ label fitted to the lid. English, circa 1950.

Size of each: 5 x 4½ x 2¾ inches (13 x 11 x 7 cm)

(Top) REFERENCE: 6841
Price code: £££

(Bottom) REFERENCE: 6842
Price Code: £££

The ‘Aquarium’ series of lighters were all designed and hand-made between 1950 and 1959, by Ben Shillingford (1904-2000) – a precious metal engraver by trade – whose unique skills in designing, carving and hand-painting the Perspex panels could never be equalled. Upon his retirement, the skills necessary to make the ‘Aquarium’ lighter could not be found, so manufacture ceased in 1959. By nature, no two ‘Aquarium’ lighters are the same – each is, in its way, a unique work of art. The vast majority, logically, depict aquatic scenes, of either sea water or fresh-water fish – but under Shillingford’s direction – never both.







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