Explore Collections Explore The Collections
You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  A shagreen case for architectural drawing instruments, with the initials ‘JS’ [John Soane]
top left corner
top right corner
bottom left corner
bottom right corner
image Image 1 for X296
image Image 2 for X296
image Image 3 for X296
A white china ink pot, a quill cutter and a shagreen case for architectural instruments. SM X286, SM X287 and SM X296. ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London
  • image Image 1 for X296
  • image Image 2 for X296
  • image Image 3 for X296

A shagreen case for architectural drawing instruments, with the initials ‘JS’ [John Soane]

Shagreen with silver mounts

Museum number: X296

Curatorial note

Unfortunately we do not know which drawing instruments Soane might have kept in this fine small case - perhaps pens and dividers.

The case is covered with 'shagreen', a term applied from the 17th century onwards to leather made from sharkskin or the skin of a rayfish. Such skins are naturally covered with circular papillae called placoid scales and to make 'shagreen' are dyed with green vegetable dye (the colour is applied on the reverse and shows through between the 'scales'). It became popular across Europe during the 18th century being regarded as waterproof and robust as well as suitably masculine for articles intended for male use.

The image shows this case with items SM X286, X287 and X1213.

Exhibition history

Hooked on Books: The Library of Sir John Soane Architect 1753-1837, Weston Gallery, University Park, Nottingham, 30 April - 30 August 2004
John Soane: Reading's Architectural Hero, Reading Museum, 5 May - 2 September 2007
The Soanes at Home: A Day in the Life of Regency London, Sir John Soane's Museum, London, 24 October 1997 - 29 February 1998


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk