This is a vintage box full of natural cowrie shell counters.
There is no maker's name on the box (Chad Valley seems to have made a lot of these boxes of shells) - but it certainly is High Art Nouveau in design and date.
This box is a very, very rare survivor - and this is reflected in my asking price.
It is probably a museum piece - or for a specialist collector of old board games and toys.
The box is in fairly good condition - some spotting to the label on the top - but the colours remain bright and the surface scuff free - the blue sides to the box - have some scuffing here and there - and the box appears to be made from a pretty basic strawboard type material.
Cowrie shells have the appearance of porcelain because of their pale colour and polished surface. In the past, they were highly prized and sought after for their decorative qualities.
In Africa, these shells were used as a form of currency for centuries as well as appearing on ceremonial dress and jewellery.
It seems that shells, pieces of bone and polished pebbles were often used as game pieces before the widespread use of plastics. These counters could have been used with a range of games such as Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, and Jacks.
I haven't been able to source another set with such an early date and attractive box - even the set held in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum are later than my set on offer here - and are in a more tradition Art Deco box.
Price reflects the rarity - the contents, of course, are original to the box.