Dating to c.1840-1850, this magnificent sterling-grade silver calling card case is a rare example of early Washington, DC memorabilia, and is attributed to a famous Birmingham, England maker!
Measuring 3 1/2" x 2 1/4" x just over 1/4" thick, this superb calling card case is the work of Nathaniel Mills & Co., an family of English silversmiths who are well-known for ornate repousse work and motifs of famous buildings from both the United States and England! Nathaniel Mills is undoubtedly the most collected and sought after makers of silver boxes, vinaigrettes, snuff boxes and card cases made in the 19th century. What many people do not realize is that the designs originated by Nathaniel Mills was not just used by one person, but by a whole family of silversmiths. Nathaniel I (1746-1840) was followed by his sons Nathaniel II, William, and Thomas, and many of the pieces made in the 1840s until 1853 were made by William or Thomas. This example falls in that period, and it displays the US Capitol Building as it appeared between 1823-1855!
The first dome used on the Capital Building was designed by Charles Bullfinch in 1823. This is the building which appears on this card case; the second dome was installed in 1856, so this card case falls right into the 1840-1850 time period. (See the photograph of the Capitol taken in 1846 in the last image.) This example also boasts the extra-rare element of a high-relief log beneath the Capitol! Two early American flags fly on each side of the dome. The back of the case is no less ornate than the front, and sports beautiful scallop shells, leaves, and scrolls with a small cartouche, which is engraved with the initials "B.L." Best of all, The case is in as fine a condition as the MOST discerning collector could hope for, without damage, repairs, or losses; it is positively untouched, and the silver displays a rich patina to the silver which only the passing of generations can impart! This case is not signed by Mills, but this was not uncommon for cases meant for export to the United States, which did not require assay marks until 1907.
Weighing in at 35.62 grams, this stunning early Victorian card case is just as useable today as when it held the visiting cards of an American lady or gentleman in the 1840s, and it will add dignity and history to any decor! If you collect the finest in silver calling card cases or American historic memorabilia, this exceptional example belongs in your collection! It would also make a stellar gift for anyone fascinated with the history of the United States Capitol building. Do not miss this Mills & Co. rarity; it is priced for quick sale, and USPS Priority mail shipping is FREE!
Your Specialists in Fine Jewelry and Decorative Arts from Antiquity - 1900. Est. 1987.
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