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Antique French Kiln-fired Enamel Jewelry Casket, Box, Case - unsigned Tahan
Unusual shape, exceptionally fine antique French kiln-fired enamel jewelry casket or box is one of the most unique of these we've found. The lower half of the box, the body, is a single hammered oval plaque, copper in composition and hand wrought, onto which the enamelist has worked a fabulous decorative coating, one bit of powder at a time. Same with the lid. The two pieces, once perfected, are mounted into the dore bronze hinged mount and a lining put in. In France these enameled boxes are almost always referred to as having been 'TAHAN' enamel boxes, even though only a few have the signature on the lock plate or inner rim. Tahan is a highly lauded name in France, both for excellence in cabinetry and furniture making (ebaniste) and for being an historical purveyor of luxury goods through much of the 19th century. You've seen us offer TAHAN signature boxes in fine woods, as well as these in enamel. The kiln fired boxes have an appearance more like fine high glaze porcelains or even glass, but in fact it is enamel powders that begin the process. This process, which I've written about many times, is one only accomplished with the skill of years and years of practice. The enamel powders are various shades of muddy mauve, taupe, blues, not the least resembling the color they will become once the kiln melts them into the glassine or porcelain like finished product you see here. So an artist is layering on stroke after stroke, working quite literally blind as far as the colors and spacing of the finished outcome he/she hopes to achieve. It is the memory that guides the hand in this art. And subject to such whims of nature and memory, it's always amazing to me that they come out with anything but a glob. I've tried this art, myself, and believe me, it's very difficult. I mostly get globs. The nature of the process is part of the reason why these old kiln-fired objects have such a following and bring the prices they continue to bring.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, there is evidence of an old restored and small chip at the bottom rim, backside, almost directly below the hinge. You will need to go looking for it, and our photographer even had difficulty trying to capture it in an image for us to point it out to you. But we try to be sure we've pointed out any flaw. These old ones normally have damage. The glassine fired enamel is more like glass or porcelain, once melted, and so is subject to damage if mishandled or dropped. They rarely survive without a few hairline cracks or a little loss here or there, but this one survives very very well. Large in size for this type of work, the one disappointment is that the complete inner lining does not remain with it. These were normally lined in silk satin fabric, often deeply tuck/tufted and padded & knotted. But as pretty as this rare green one is, and as unique a shape as it has, you're going to not care a bit if you display it always closed, are you. Measurements are noted on our photos.
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San Marcos, CA
Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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