What a completely delightful and charming piece this is.. For the collector of the oh so coveted unique and unusual vinaigrettes, this is simply an outstanding and extraordinary one... I will actually go out on a limb here and say it is rare. If you read any of my descriptions you will find that I generally refrain from using the word. I feel too many people throw it around with (not really rare) items. But, once in a great while I really believe a piece qualifies and I really believe this fits into that category..
The amount of workmanship that went into making this is fascinating as is the shape of the little urn itself and the little fluted umbrella shaped gold flower top piece that fits perfectly inside... Please see the photo near my centimeter/millimeter ruler. It is such a delightful miniature.
The bench jeweler clearly made this for someone of means.. It is very small and it may have been made for a child. Or, this was a woman's vinaigrette who wore this on a chain or on her chatelaine. The original pink silk is still present in the top cap and the sponge that held the owner's original recipe of vinegar and perfume is there as well....
During very early periods, going back centuries, every man woman and child had one of these. If you came from meager means than it would have been a plain square little box. Maybe it was made of silver or an inexpensive metal but anyone who made as little as a dime a week had to have one. There were no sewer lines, nor were there garbage dumps where garbage was taken. In the poor areas in cities like London or Paris, people simply threw their waste out of their windows onto the ground. The horrific smell that created was overwhelming.. When people walked by those area's they would literally faint from the stench. They would quickly reach for their personal vinaigrette and quickly put it to their nose. They would breath in the sweet smell of their homemade perfume/vinegar mixture. Inhaling that prevented them from passing out. As I stated, it was a necessity! Only the elite had the luxury, if they owned land to have their waste hauled away from their homes. But, they still traveled to cities for shopping adventures and to visit friends and family. Depending on your wallet would depend on what your personal vinaigrette would look like.
I've seen all kinds of these.. They came in so many beautiful and interesting shapes and forms. They were made of silver, gold, enamel and simple base metals. There were hearts, animals, dragon's, engraved oblong and round boxes, a beloved dog, etc. etc.. The sky was the limit. If a family had the luxury of having their own bench jeweler than it was likely special ordered to their exact specifications. Many were monogrammed. I believe this vinaigrette was a special order, consigned piece.
Please enlarge the photos on this, notice the extraordinary detail. The bench jeweler hand pounded very tiny decoration everywhere, even on the bottom. It is a fascinating piece.
This is very early.. There are no hallmarks but I have had a good long time dealer friend help me to date this. She has been a dealer for 35+ years and one of her own personal collections happens to have been vinaigrettes. So, I was very lucky and grateful for the help.. Thank you Nancy! She has told me with confidence that she believes this little treasure is from circa 1780 ~1800 or slightly earlier..
Condition is absolutely excellent. There are no apologies to be made at all. The hinge is in perfect working order and it closes with a perfect snap! The little flower with an umbrella shaped scoop is also pristine. That little hook was used to fish out the sponge when it needed to be refreshed with her homemade solution..
I brought this to my bench jeweler who has a very high-tech piece of equipment for testing metals. It has scanned for 15K yellow gold. There is zero room for error with this instrument. One day I will purchase on myself. Currently they are about 22K but I do know that eventually they will come down in price. That will be nice as it will save me the 1 hour, each way trip to the jeweler who owns it...
This can be worn on a simple gold chain, an antique ribbon or cord so it can be worn as a necklace or of course, for the collector it can be put in a display case and simply admired.
This measures 7/8" x 1/2" wide Without the chain. It dangles just a hair shy of 1 1/4" long. It weighs 1.5 grams..
I purchased this from a very sweet woman who has been buying for me for about 2 years now.. She bought it in London. Although unsigned I believe this to be either French or English in origin.
Circa 1800, Georgian Period
I happen to just adore this little beaut.. The Unique, the Unusual and the Hard to find.. My Favorite! Questions are always welcome and encouraged..
Please Note: I always take my photos in natural light however I took one photo with a flashlight. That picture shows the interior of the piece very well. I wanted to show the true color of the pink silk or satin and the yellow original sponge..
God Bless Our Troops near and Far. Please bring them home at Godspeed. From a Military Mom
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