Embellished with distinctive and imaginative geometric designs, this hanging box is part of a known group of similarly decorated small forms recently attributed to Somerset County in western Pennsylvania. Similar in both design and color palette, the group includes a hanging box that sold at Christie's New York, The Collection of George W. Scott, June 11, 1994, lot 529, a miniature checkerboard chest in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum, illustrated and discussed in Hollander, American Anthem (New York, 2001) fig 157, p. 185, and a lift-lid trinket box illustrated and discussed in David Wheatcroft Antiques, vol. I (March 2004), fig. 5.
Fully developed with an array of design motifs, the hanging box offered here displays a combination of features seen on the above cited examples. With the Scott Collection example, it shares the same form, with a demilune backing providing the support for hanging on the wall. The elaborate compass-delineated design on the top of the lid is seen on the lid of the box at the American Folk Art Museum and the tulip-and-dot ornament on the demilune backing is repeated on the Wheatcroft box. Distinguishing this box is the grouping of full-compass circles on the faade and the diagonal rather than horizontal and vertical orientation of the checkerboard decoration. Both these details energize the overall design and further illustrate the inventiveness of the creator.