I've found a very close match of this lovely small lacquer string holder that describes it (with some authority) as English Victorian-era Chinoiserie, late 19th or very early 20th century. Made of lacquered papier mache, it features wonderful gold-toned decoration, different on all sides, depicting figures engaged in a variety of scenes, including one figure smoking from a pipe, another holding a fan, another reading, and another who appears to be consuming something with his eyes closed! On the top, at the center of which is the grommeted hole from which string would be pulled (this would have been kept on a desk, with the sting used for tying packages or papers) are three figures in kimono dancing. Really a charming piece in terrific shape--useful still as a string holder, or just as a box.
2 3/4" in diameter x 2 1/4" tall. Excellent condition, with very little wear to the lacquer, just a little darkening in a few spots, as documented.