A wonderful find: this antique French 'billet doux' (literally: sweet note), which is a tube-like formed case into which love notes and invitations of a romantic nature were traditionally passed in the 1700s, this case is probably truly one of the most romantic items the French ever came up with, and you know the French reputation and fixation on romance. Made in the 'Vernis Martin' layered paint and varnishes of the Brother's Martin, and popular in the time of Marie-Antoinette, this little case is a real show-stopper! While these would have been more colorful in their time, the darkening of the old varnishes used in layers with paint tended to darken over time so these usually have a deepened warm tone overcasting the images painted on them. Glorious historically - who knows what Courtier flirted and entice which Aristocrat (and vice-versa) using this very one billet doux to transport their note of love and plans for clandestine tete-a-tete and more. Perhaps Marie-Antoinette, herself. Someday maybe we'll decode molecular memory from objects. Won't it be ever so interesting then to have all these antiques! Beautiful, charming, in fine condition for its age (200-280 years old, after all). It is one from my own collection. Watch for a few more of my favorites to come into inventory. I'm shifting collections, as usual.
This is one of several fine ones we have in inventory (and private collection) and it's a fabulous one with the plump Cherubs or Putti from French Romantic era scenes reminiscent of its true era, and of the paintings of Boucher and Fragonard, c.mid-1700s. The case is decorated in the Vernis Martin process, and it does date to the time of the ill-fated Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. Small enough to secret within the folds of a 1700s gown, I still think this one is a 'lucky' billet doux, don't you? You know, for those with only " Je t'aime " to say, back and forth, forever and forever? The case is complete, very slight surface abrasion here or there and that one spot up tom that is a chip in the varnished paintings (visible in our images). The 18k gold rim is completely intact, slightly pink in color and is engraved. Acid tested at 18k. Splendid paintings and brilliant palette. A real gem! It is one of the most complete of these we've seen in ages. Tempting to have the on small chipped area reworked, but we'll leave that decision for the next owner. Shell inside lining and lip - what a beauty! It's already nicer than most we see on display in museums around the world. These are RARE! Don't miss it.
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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