Between 1790 and 1830, in the height of the Napoleonic Wars and conquests, this rare Officer's field vanity 'necessaire' or toiletries casket was made. Judging from the age and accoutrement, we can be quite certain it would have been either an officer of Napoleon's or a titled or well off traveler who owned this fine set. That it survives in as complete a condition as it does is really quite rare, and speaks to its heritage and to many many generations of family who have cherished it in the 200 + years since it was made and used. More than likely it was initially purchased from one of the boutiques that flanked the promenade of the old Palace of Cardinal Richelieu, a gathering place by this time for Napoleon's armies, local dignitaries, and some ladies of the sort that military officers might look for, too, for a little comfort. Prior to this era, the Palais Royal, as the site was known, hosted Royals and dignitaries from around the world, and was not only a site for the finest goods to be had, but also a center of theatre and dining. A long and lauded history, the 'Palais Royal' goods that survive bring a premium for that distinction. I would bet highly this is one, as well. The necessaire is alas only partially complete, lacking very few of the original implements including two straight razors in the top. Still in the solid wood interior, carved precisely to accommodate the individual contents, you'll find a two silver plated vanity jars (with old Veryat silversmith marks), scissors, folding knife & bottle corkscrew piece, an ear wax spoon in the top removable tray and below is a cologne bottle and frame for what would have been a brush. In the lid there is a mirror panel sans mirror, two folding boot pulls and a strop or sharpening tool with a paper label that reads "Cuir a Razors d'Aucoc, Or la Fabrique Bte Du Roi" (I'll look and quote more accurately). There is a retailer in the Paris Flea who has wonderful boxes, some like this one. I look at his collection every time I am in Paris, and marvel at the fine old necessaires, and this one may well find its way back there. The last fine old Palais Royal necessaire we had did go back to France in the end. I am aware of one of these available in France at the moment, similarly complete, and it is priced quite high. A lovely collection here, don't miss it.
Very good condition. The exterior of the solid mahogany box is in fabulous shape with just some slight surface imperfections. The original brass front, lock and hardware are all intact but we're missing a key at the moment. I'll go back through our extras to see if any will work. The lid of the box with a brass cartouche & monogram. Some wear/loss to the silver plating on the jars, etc. Some rust on the steel pieces. See pictures for measurements.
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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