I've seen and owned a few of these over the years, and note that some sellers claim they are prisoner of war carved items, while others (and more rightly, I think) mention them as being carved "early colonial", meaning, from many sources, those colonies that arose in expansions of various European country interests into areas where the Brazilian palm grows as a native plant. The coquilla nut is the fruit of the Brazilian Palm, a close relative of the coconut palm. Usually 3-4" long, the nut was perfect for the carving of egg-shaped containers for sewing items or snuff, and for the snuff boxes such as this one, which mimic the shape of the nut from which it was carved. Exotic goods such as these found their way into collections of those who traveled for trade, and also those Georgian to earliest Victorians who ventured out on their own Grand Tour to such exotic destinations. Since Brazil was a Portuguese colony throughout the 16th through 19th centuries, the boxes range in age and importance to collectors and can sometimes be difficult to date. The one we have here is rather more simple to date in that we know it follows the coronation of Napoleon as Emperor of France, which event was in 1804. The theme of this box is entirely about that coronation, and was likely either made in honor or commemoration of it, or shortly afterward as a souvenir for travelers whose news included the coronation. It's important to the collector of all things "Napoleon", as well as to Grand Tour, snuff box and Coquilla nut collectable antique items, and would be a fabulous gift idea.
Very good condition, with no damage beyond the natural shrinkage of the natural 'nut' itself which has opened the space you see and might otherwise interpret as a chip or crack missing some of the nut. The drying process over centuries often results in such flaws, however, and since it is a natural occuring flaw, it is not considered damage. A fabulous find! This one has been in a collection in France and has just come to us recently. What a thrill to offer it here. Note the profile of Napoleon and also the regalia and arms that surround his image. This could, I suppose, be pre-1804, but the laurel leaf crown on Napoleon's image suggests the coronation to me. Entirely hand carved, of course, it is a magnificent item, museum quality!
Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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