An unusually ornate smoking accessory, 3 3/4" x 2 3/8" x 11/16" very finely crafted from Tahitian black-lip M.O.P. (Pinctada margaritifera). The nicely (but hastily, as this came from a mass-production shop) carved front depicts a peasant fisher-woman on a beach carrying her basket and net; the back has "Berck Plage" engraved in script, so this would have been a high-end memento from a popular tourist beach of that name near the town of Calais. This exact theme was actually very common on French "Grand Tour" treasures, almost identical to those found on carved whole shells meant to be hung on the wall (see our item #00686).
A ball-snap catch keeps the case solidly closed, and the interior reveals blue satin lining with edge-tooled leather pockets which can hold small cigars or modern cigarettes up to 3 1/8" long.
Condition is good but certainly not perfect: some light tobacco staining to the satin; slight tarnish and wear to the nickle plated brass parts; a couple of very small nicks on the top two corners of the front pearl; and a hairline crack halfway across the back panel just underneath the engraving (but which is still very solidly attached).
Not just a display item, but fully functional, and a real attention grabber next time you pull out a smoke!
Specialists in Mother of Pearl (M.O.P.) and other nacreous shell, both artifacts and raw materials.
Pearlescence and chatoyance predominate, with occasional amber, linens, china, and select "smalls".