This type of patch box or toothpick case was popular in England and Europe from c.1740-1830, and we find them made in numerous fine natural materials such as this one in tortoise shell with fine sterling silver pique and cartouche worked into the surface, and even in precious metals such as gold and silver, as well. The navette form is a personal favorite, though I love the old mourning ones with their hair art 'paintings' protected under glass, too. The interior lid normally would have an old mercury mirror, though this one no longer has one. These were used for patch storage and application, a 'patch' being those black circles applied with adhesive to one's face like a beauty mark. A strange practice, to be sure, by today's standard at least, those black dots often covered other unsightly blemishes, but were thought of as beauty marks against the pale powdered faces of the most stylish elite. A beautiful little box to display, and a wonderful genre to collect.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, this one has no chips, bites, cracks or damage to note apart from the absence of a mirror inside, or velvet lining, which it may or may not have originally had. The interior is exceptionally clean and displays beautifully open or closed. A very slight natural flaw can be seen in the steam-shaped tortoise shell back near the hinge area, but this is not a chip or damage, but is natural to the shell, itself. All silver pique is still firmly embedded and no rises can be seen or felt. The cartouche has not yet been engraved. Beautiful old shell!
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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