This is the ornate case of a 19th c. German music box. Originally it could play several tunes (fewer than an MP3 player, but the same idea) and the case was a magnificently detailed wooden baroque scene of cherubs and ornate vegetation. Sitting for a while in water, however, revealed that it is actually made from glued sawdust (a precursor of pressboard) with a thin veneer of dark hardwood that had apparently been steamed and pressed into a very elaborately carved mold. The net result looked remarkably like carved wood.
To restore this box, we first addressed the structural damage with clamps and wood glue. Then we made molds of a surviving bottom edge, and cast new trim for the rest of the bottom edge. All four feet, however, were gone, so it was necessary to recreate them. We followed the flow and spirit of the decoration that leads into the feet, and sculpted them from colored epoxy putty.
The final result, with cleaning and waxing the whole, was ready to go back to the museum where it came from – The Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset, Maine.