It's a beautiful old piece, sitting just about 4 feet high with its accompanying stand. I won't tell you what I paid, but it is less than a tenth of what a new one would go for.
This is known as a 'Wardian Case' (although some people erroneously call it an Edwardian Case). Dr. Nathaniel Ward invented it in the early 19th century. At that time - it was the era of the great exploration of their vast Empire - the British were obsessed with plant materials from overseas, and some tender material needed to be protected on the long sea travel from exotic parts of the globe. They then grew in popularity as a way for people to display these rarities in their homes, and many very beautiful and elaborate specimens were designed.
The later glass houses such as the one at Crystal Palace and the famous one at Kew Gardens (pictured below) are ultimately developments on this simple idea.
The terrariums with which many of us are familiar from the seventies are a throwback to the Wardian Cases.
I haven't yet decided what to do with my beautiful find but it will certainly have a place in my yard!