Oh how I love it when I get the blues! Celeste or 'Sevres' blue, I mean. And you can easily see the reason - here is one more of those fabulous old mid-1800s French kiln-fired enamel jewelry caskets in its elegant old ormolu framework with ornate cabriole legs. Sure, the legs lift it, but it's the 5 superbly crafted convex plaques of kiln-fired enamel against that blue that truly elevate it, wouldn't you agree? Yes, there are 5 excellent panels, each worked on its own by some un-signed artist of enameling, a jeweler's trade that has all but disappeared these days owing to the intensely arduous craft it truly is. Imagine the 5 convex plaques of copper, and imagine you have 15 pots of muddy mauve, blue, gray goo and a brush. The enamels don't turn into the colors you see until the massive heat of the kiln melts the enamel powders into the glassine finish you see, remember, and your job is to not only remember exactly what muddy pot will give you what colors in the end, but also what you've layered on (back to front, no less) so it turns into a spray of flowers and vines, with a very detailed butterfly, to boot. Sure, maybe those raised dots of 'jeweling' that get applied at the end for a final kiln-firing might be pretty simple, but think of the hours and hours you'll spend making these 5 panels before you even get to do the white jewel dots. I've done this enamel stuff in metalsmithing - believe me, I can understand why the old apprentices needed many many years to become Masters of this art. It's impossible to learn quickly. And that's just part of why these are such coveted items. Another reason is that these were, almost exclusively, sold through the Lauded French retailer and ebeniste, Tahan, in their luxury decorative goods boutique in Paris, c. 1830-1860s. So it's little wonder that even with its tattered old original silk interior, this one is a top of the line value - not a single chip to any of those 5 panels, and I don't even see a missing white jewel dot. There might be the very faintest of hairlines in a spot or two, but not a noticeable crack to be found. As subject to chipping and severe damage as that glassine or porcelain-like finish is, it's a thrill every time I find one that is in as fine a condition as the one you see here. And if it's in my favorite Sevres blue - well, C'est magnifique!
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, this one is superb with 5 intact panels of kiln-fired enamel, barely a fine fine hairline to be found, and no chips or cracks of note. Even the plethora of little raised white 'jewel' dots are there in full. I didn't see a single one missing, but you'll forgive me if I missed one, being so blinded by the overall beauty of this fine French casket. Interior lining is the old original, and as such, it shows its age in tattered silk, particularly that lining the lid. Still, better the original than nothing, and the bottom half is in quite presentable condition, after all. This one is also a rather unique elongated rectangular form we don't see often. Not to be missed! There is not a signature, but virtually all of this type were made for Tahan, marketed through their boutique in Paris, mid-1800s.
Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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