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 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 but not enough to diminish either pleasure in owning and displaying it, or in its present and future value. The metal color looks to be silver that once had a vermeil or 18k gold layer, some of that gold is worn over time. It is one of the most complete and undamaged of these we've seen in ages. Tempting to have the gold collar reworked, but we'll leave that decision for the next owner. Shell inside lining and lip - what a beauty! 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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