A charming little kiln-fired enamel coin purse dating to the Napoleon III era (Victorian) c. 1850-70, and either French or Vienna enamel, as both were producing similar beautiful little enamel items during that time. 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. This one has a fabulously detailed exotic bird and floral garland cartouche with that deep green ground color. Foiled behind the enamels, you see the variations in foil around the outer perimeter and center foil decorative work on the purse's backside. Clasp holds, but doesn't want to stay tight, so perhaps one to display more than to use. Or you might make a slight adjustment there. The outer border is worked in brass and it is in fine form as you can see.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, this one is enameled on both front and back panels, not a flawless example but a rare form in that we almost never see this type of work done on a coin purse. Perhaps they've all been lost to damage over time. There was a very small spot we had our enamelist correct on the back panel. You'll never find it at all. I can't even find it, she's so good. But bears a mention that it did have a small chip and it is now fully restored. The original silk lining is there, has a little split on one side, visible in our images. But not much deterioration for all these years. A wonderful example of the old kiln-fired enamel work. RARE to find purses worked in this way. Measurements noted on our photos.
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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