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Exquisite French Aide Memoir, Black Mother of Pearl & Gilt, c1822
This is an extraordinary and rare survivor of a beautiful aide memoir. The covers are of black mother of pearl (possibly from French Polynesia), trimmed with beautifully patterned gilt metal. The colour of the mother of pearl varies with how the light strikes the surface from dark to paler iridescent stripes of pink, palest green and cream. The mother of pearl on the front and the back has a delicate oval of fine engraving. On the front there is the addition of a small medallion with the tiny word ‘Souvenir’ at the top. At the side is a finely wrought spiral which holds the original pencil (currently without lead) – and this acts as a closure to the aide memoir. Inside the lid there is a covering of deep cream satin and a couple of pages later there is a title page called ‘Petit Souvenir a Paris’ with the maker’s address, ‘Chez Le Fuel, Rue St Jacques No 5a’. The next number of pages has, on each page, the months of the year in French with a small image above. There is the faded suggestion of some writing. The next few pages are blank, then there is an original calendar, described as ‘Calendrier Portatif pour l’Annèe 1822’ and details of each day of the month with what appear to be Saint’s names. The next pages are blank but all the pages have a faint gilt edging. The condition for age is excellent although there is some staining of the front lining and a small amount of age-spotting on some of the leaves and the surface of the mother of pearl has some slight fine scratches that do not detract. It is amazing that this piece has remained intact and still beautiful after nearly 200 years. This would make a great addition to any collection of objet d vertu. Length 3.1 ins (7.8cm). Width without pencil 2.25 ins (5.6cm). Weight 94 grams.
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