Oh my! I love little carved peach pit baskets, but they certainly pale in comparison to this fantastic tiny family of creatures carved from walnut shells! I'd guess they are meant to be cats or tigers (with the natural grain of the shells giving them black stripes), with these terrific pointed ears, red painted mouths, and long arching tails, which function like handles on their backs! Plus a hollowed out half walnut shell to pile them into, with an old newspaper (Ben-Day dotted) face on the bottom--perhaps a photo of their maker? I believe these likely date to the first quarter of the 20th century, and were found in a Marshall Fields cardboard jewelry box. I think they're just spectacular and certainly one of a kind!
Photos are shot at 2x magnification (so you can see bits of dust here and there.) Two of the 6 are larger and one of the 4 smaller ones has no tail. Walnut is 1 1/4" across. Largest cat is 1 3/8" long and the smaller cats are 3/4" long. Overall very good condition, with maybe a few tiny chips here and there.
(*snuff box shoe sold separately!)