An Exceptional Pair of Dome Cased c.1870s Preserved Acropora Corals

Origin: English with the Specimens Indo-Pacific/Atlantic
Period: Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1860-70
Height: 7.25 inches, Diameter: 12 inches (the base)
Height: 9.25 inches, Width: 12.5 inches, Depth 9.5 inches (the whole)

The Victorian preserved coral displays, showing the twig-like tubular appressed clustered Acropora coral specimens, the first example raised on a seabed rock effect bed, beneath an original compressed glass circular dome with rope twist border on circular ebonised plinth, and the second specimen, lying on its side, un-mounted, beneath an original glass dome with robe bordered oval shaped ebonised plinth.

The glass domes and ebonised wooden bases are in superb order and are original to the coral displays. The specimens themselves are in good condition giving there brittleness and fragility and their age. For specimen one there is some old cracking to the moulding but the coral section is generally good and there are odd tiny parts lacking (pieces not retained). With example two there is a small broken section held in place with cotton and a tiny tip of one broken. Overall they couldn’t really be expected to be in any better order, the specimens and the domes themselves are of the highest quality at the time.

Acropora is a genus of small polyp stony coral in the Phylum Cnidaria. Some of its species are known as table coral, elkhorn coral and staghorn coral. Acropora displays an amazing array of forms and, with over 135 species, it is the most species rich hard coral genus and it is one of the major reef corals responsible for building the immense calcium carbonate substructure that supports the thin living skin of a reef.

Acropora is most common in shallow reef environments with bright light and moderate to high water motion. Environmental destruction has led to a dwindling of populations of Acropora, along with other coral species. The 3-D structure of this coral provides a rich habitat for a wide range of other reef creatures including crabs, brittle stars and fish. Branching colonies grow from the axial corallites and can rapidly take over space with their lightly built skeletons. Despite their delicate appearance they are common on upper reef slopes where damage caused by wave action can disperse colony fragments which regrow asexually.

From the 149 species of acropora this particular sub -pecies is probably listed CITES, and may require re-export permits. If you are interested and are not in the UK please check domestic legislation and import controls for your region before buying.

During the nineteenth century pieces of coral that were too large for the cabinet were sometimes placed under glass domes like this one to enhance their decorative appeal and to prevent them from gathering dust. Sometimes shells and other adornments were added, but that would simply be gilding the lily in this instance.

One would be hard pressed to find more magnificent examples of their type, presented in original condition, with decorative aplomb.