A superb Norwegian silver and enamel box by J. Tostrup

For sale is this remarkable Norwegian silver and enamel jewellery box made by the famous firm of J Tostrup.   A photo of the box survives in the Tostrup archive showing it to have been made in 1914 and designed by the firm’s leading designer and owner Jacob Prytz.  He was the grand son-in-law of Jacob Tostrup, the firm’s founder.

The box was almost certainly exhibited in the 1914 Norwegian Art and Industries Exhibition held in Kristiana (renamed Oslo in 1925).  The box is marked for Tostrup, Kristiana sterling silver.  The enamel is on silver that has been engraved (guilloché) to highlight the enamelling. The central plaque of geese has been inserted into the lid within the overall decorative enamel design.

The box is full of symbolism and was almost certainly conceived as a marriage casket.  The pair of geese to the main plaque, seen flying over what is likely a Norwegian seascape, symbolise marriage (life time pairing).  The shells, set amongst sea weed, suggest fertility and the  goddess Venus.  There may be a further meaning within the design to do with leaving Norway, as the flying geese also represent migration and, in the Catholic tradition, the scallop shell is as symbol of pilgrimage.

It is museum standard and of exceptional gauge and quality.

Torolf Prytz (26 December 1858 – 16 June 1938) was a Norwegian architect, goldsmith and politician. He led the goldsmith company J. Tostrup of Oslo from 1890 to 1938, having inherited it from his grandfather-in-law Jacob Tostrup.

He was born in Alstahaug in Nordland, Norway. His family moved to Kristiania (now Oslo) when he was 12 years old. Prytz went to Kristiania Technical School. After completing his education at the polytechnic college of the University of Hannover, he was an assistant of architects Georg Andreas Bull and Henrik Thrap-Meyer.

He started his silversmith career through a cooperation with goldsmith Oluf Tostrup, son of goldsmith Jacob Tostrup and co-owner in his company J. Tostrup. Prytz became formally affiliated with J. Tostrup in 1882, after marrying Oluf’s daughter. In 1884, after two years of studying, he was promoted from head designer to co-owner. When Jacob Tostrup died (having outlived his son, Oluf) in 1890, Prytz bought the entire company, retaining the tradename. He strengthened the company’s position as one of the leading goldsmith companies in Norway, with a reputation for innovative, artistic and modern design.

A major figure in Norway, he served as a deputy representative to the Norwegian Parliament during the term 1900–1903, and served as Minister of Industrial Provisioning from 1917 to 1918.[4] From 1922 to 1930 he was the President of the Norwegian Red Cross. Prytz also chaired the National Institute of Technology from 1916 to 1935 and the Norwegian Museum of Decorative Arts and Design from 1929 to 1934. He served as a member of the board of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design from 1884 to 1934 and the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry from 1892 to 1900 and 1904 to 1928.

Prytz was also the father of Jakob Tostrup Prytz (1886–1962) who followed him into the management of J. Tostrup and  grandfather to Grete Prytz Kittelsen who is now revered as the leading Norwegian post-war jewellery and applied art modernist designer.

Condition of the box is really excellent with just two tiny areas of old enamel restoration to the the left side corners of the lid – see images.  The interior lilac silk remains but has deteriorated.  I am happy to have this restored on request, and it would need to be restored to use the interior of the box.

The box appears in a number of publications, notably by Annelies Krekel-Aalberse, including “Modern Zilver” and and “Art Nouveau and Art deco silver”.

Price: £5,000-10,000

Maker: J Tostrup

Designer: Jacob Prytz

Date: 1914

Marks: J Tostrup, Kristiana,  Sterling

Material: Sterling silver, enamel, silk interior

Condition: Very good, two tiny areas of old enamel restoration – see description

Size: 4.25 cm high, 20.25 length, 10.25cm width

Weight: 32.2 oz, 913 grams

SKU: A1499 Category:

Additional information


Art nouveau, Arts and crafts