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1871 Pietra Dura Jewelry Casket Box by Howell James & Co Regent Street London
1871 Pietra Dura Jewelry Casket by Howell, James & Co Regent Street London jewelers by Appointment To Queen Victoria.
In Outstanding Condition. The Pietra Dura plague is fixed on an elaborately decorated brass strap work mount with fleur-de-lis at each end. Fine etched floral decoration adorns this mount all over. The casket itself is made from an alloy of zinc, copper and tin which produced a rose gold like metal with a mirror finish. A slight polish with a dry cloth restores its finish and it does not tarnish. The hinges are in perfect working order. The lock is in place but the key is no longer present. The front rim is engraved with the makers name and address.
The Pietra Dura plaque is also in excellent condition. All the inlay is present and there are no cracks.
It measures 10 inches by 6 inches by 4 inches high.
The Pietra Dura Plaque measures 3 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches.
The interior is beautifully lined in brushed crushed velvet.
Pietra Dura or literally hard stones was an art that flourished in Florence in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was revived in the 19th century and Pietra Dura was seen as a must buy by participants on the Grand Tour. It is mosaic work using precious stones and marbles as inlay to create a picture usually a floral still life. London jewelers commissioned large pieces of Pietra Dura, from the Florentine master craftspeople, to adorn their jewelry caskets. This beautiful casket by Howell, James and Company was made for the London Exhibition of 1871.
Pietra Dura or Pietre Dure is know in South Asia as Parchin Kari and was used extensively in the Taj Mahal where the art form was used to create the mood of romance and love. It is not a coincidence that the blue French pansies are represented in this beautiful Petra Dura plaque because the French word pansy translates as 'Remember me, remember the giver or forget me not'
Is it time to remind someone that this splendid jewelry casket would ensure you would always remember the giver? I think that is what Shah Jahan had in mind when he built the Taj Mahal for his third wife. I often wondered what did he build for his first wife !!!
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Patrick G Burke, Sligo, Ireland
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