France, Maison Vilmorin-Andrieux, ca. 1880. Wooden box (22.3 x 18.0 x 4.8 cm) with custom-made compartments under two glass panels; with printed name-bearing labels mounted; and metal hinges and locks.
A fine, carefully constructed sample-box, most probably made for a travelling agent of the famous French Maison Vilmorin-Andrieux, one of the leading cereal breeders and producers in western Europe. The agronomist and plant breeder Charles Philippe Vilmorin, author of Les meilleurs blés. Description et culture des principales variétés de froments d'hiver et de printemps, was its head, and responsible for many illustrated catalogues with new and improved cereals. This box, with one section in the upper (top) part of the box, and one in the ower (bottom) part, contains ten different ears (nine different wheats, one species of barley) - of which five with their brand name and the others with other brand names or more general names - and sixteen samples of grains; also named, and preserved in round "pockets". The upper samples are titled "Première sélection du monde" (world species); the lower samples "Première variétés françaises". Two pockets are empty. Amazing level of preservation. An excellent and beautiful item.