This is an important box. Created by Henry Charles Freeman, one of the most eminent silversmiths of the English Arts and Crafts era and decorated by Nathaniel Hughes John Baird (1865-1936), it depicts a fairy and is eggshell enamel on pewter.
(Eggshell enamel is a process where an object is enameled and fired and then treated with a chemical and re-fired to produce the craquelure).
Freeman's Arts and Crafts enamel boxes regularly come up for sale at auction in the thousands of British pounds, however, alas this little box has some flea bite damage to parts of the edge, see photos. The finish is stable and has been checked by a restorer.
The early 1900s was the time of spiritualists, fairies and other psychic phenomena. People wanted to believe in life after death and magical entities. Later in the early 1900s there was the Cottingley fairy hoax, believed and published by none other than Arthur Conan Doyle himself, where 2 school girls made paper fairies and took photos telling everybody that they were real.
I have no idea what the purpose of this little box was, it has an internal lip which looks like it keeps things in place but its small size precludes cigarettes or calling cards. It is a delightful petite size just 2.5 inches by 1.75 inches and it is adorable. I kept baby teeth in it ( tooth fairy?) but it could be used for any treasure.
Because of the nature of the finish I wouldn't put it to any hard usage. However, it is extremely lovely and a one of a kind by a famous maker. Because of the damage I have reduced the price accordingly. If it was restored it should command upwards of $1000+ at auction.
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