This is a stunning silver gilt waist plaque with short central plaques for an étui or possibly a watch. Such an item is now called a chatelaine but in its day would have been termed an equipage. It is very hard to find one of these still existing, created in a precious metal and this item tests for near sterling silver and has a French mark which appears to be an export mark for silver, and the item is also gilded. It is in the more symmetrical style of such items and as such would date to c1740. It is unusual in that there is no tongue at the back to hook over a belt or waistband but there is a hinge with a ring which could well have been attached to a cord or ribbon, and this is an uncommon feature and appears to be original. The top section includes mythological figures with a hinge to a central section which is in several parts – the one in the middle has a winged cherub at the top above a crown with cornucopia at the sides. There are two short chains on each side and all three sections end with highly decorative beautiful swivels of the early style that have to be unscrewed so that the hinged swivel can then be opened and then re-screwed for security. The piece is in excellent condition for age and the gilding shows very little wear except at the top at the back of the main waist plaque. This piece could be augmented with the addition of appropriate étui or possibly a silver gilt watch with key and seal and is a lovely and rare example of 18th century silver gilt workmanship. It would grace any collection. Maximum length 4 ins (10.1cm). Weight 42 grams. This item appears in my book, “Chatelaines, Utility to Glorious Extravagance” on page 103.