I was surprised when I did a cursory acid test on the fitting for this little box, and only did so because it just did not have any tarnish to speak of. It tests solid 12k yellow gold throughout, and it's rather thick and substantial. Of course it didn't surprise me that much, considering these little c.1730-1800 French boxes, called 'boite a' mouche', are both rare and were, in their time, made for the very upper crust of society - Royals, courtiers, the titled and elite. Later ones are called patch boxes, but these early ones, which sometimes come with a little brush and often 2 folding 'lids' within, are known as 'boite a mouche'. Oddly, since that is, literally, box of flies (or black spots). As a custom of beauty, both ladies and men were known to use these black dots as applied beauty marks of sorts (some say to cover the black lesions of disease such as syphilis). In any case, they were VERY fashionable, and the small boxes used to house the dots, and apparatus related to the application of same, are often quite elaborate. The stunning parquet work of abalone shell worked into natural shell that comprises the body of the box, top and bottom, are incredibly fine. The play of color and light makes it an ever-changing surface of rainbow coloration, we've tried to capture in our images. Boxes of this quality might well have originally come from boutiques of the old Palais Royal, then center of theatre and society for the highest of the high, or it may be a specially commissioned box. We will never know. But certainly the allure and charm as well as the incredibly fine artistry speaks highest regards of this one today.
Very good to excellent for age and type, and with one flaw to note: there is one panel of the top of the box which has been replaced at some point - certainly 1800s restoration, so even that represents an antique. There are a few very tiny gold diamonds that have gone missing from the parquet work, but the bulk of it remains in excellent condition for age and type. The fitting, hinge and framework is entirely 12k solid gold. It is unmarked but is tested and guaranteed. The French boxes and standard was primarily 18k, so it is possible this patch box is a very early English one. We can't be certain.
NOTE This item will be handled and shipped from our Utah office, and is not available to California customers, sorry.
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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