Here is a lovely sterling silver vinaigrette box from renowned British silversmith George Unite.
What makes this so unusual is it bears the Queen Victoria I duty hallmark.
The top and bottom are decorated with beautiful elaborate and elegant engine-turned decoration.
There is a vacant cartouche at the center of the lid surrounded by a lovely pattern of etched flowers.
Both the bottom and top of the box feature a lovely semi-scalloped edge (very typical of the era).
As you can see, there is a small loop and bale on the top of the box; this would have allowed a lady to hang it from her chatelaine.
Upon opening the vinaigrette box, you will see the incredibly beautiful pierced screen.
The screen as well as the underside of the lid is gold gilt, giving them a wonderful yellow-gold finish.
A hinge on one side of the screen allows it to be easily lifted and securely pushed down again.
During the era a small sponge containing the wearer's favorite scent would have been placed underneath the screen. The gilding helped prevent any undue patination.
There are three die-stamped maker's marks on the underside of the lid. The first of these is the Queen Victoria I duty stamps.
Duty stamps like this were created to indicate that a tax on the item had been paid to the crown.
The George Unite hallmark ("GU" inside a rectangular box) follows this. The lion passant is the final mark.
Three more maker's marks can be seen on the bottom of the box under the screen, starting with the symbol of Birmingham: the anchor.
The GU mark is repeated and then followed by the date mark "P", for 1864.
There is some slight patination on the interior though the vinaigrette box remains in absolutely extraordinary condition overall, and exhibits a wonderfully shiny and scratch-free exterior.
Measurements: 1" long (1 ¼" w/ loop), 16mm wide, 6 ½mm thick Weight: 8.5 grams (0.30 oz)
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