Dating between 1770 and 1820 this exquisite Necessaire is a sumptuous confection in mother of pearl and silver. It has a magical countenance, with the mother of pearl reflecting a rainbow of colors. It originates from just outside of Nice, France.
Boxes such as this were given as friendship gifts during the late 18th century and early 19th century. The words "amitie" and "souvenir" (friendship and remembrance) are inlaid in small silver letters on either side of the box lid. Each half of the box has a 1/4" wide engraved silver frame. The Souvenir side features a poignant oval medallion with a ribbon holding a flaming heart with wings. A quiver of arrows and a lit torch cross above the heart. Festoons of laurel leaves frame the medallion. All of the decorative work is in silver which is inlaid into the mother of pearl. The reverse Amitie side has an oval medallion which features two hearts side by side floating above an urn from which an eternal flame rises. Festoons of flowers and laurel leaves ornament the oval medallion. The outer edges are inlay with tiny silver leaves (leaves missing top and bottom and bottom of sides). The box does not contain the original leafs which would have been placed inside...it is an empty box.
It measures: 3 1/8" x 1 3/4" x 1/4". It is in amazing condition for the age: missing inlay leaves on outer edges as is mentioned above, a few missing leafs on the two faces but the majority of each design is intact. The box opens and closes well, the interior is original. It misses the original leaves (for writing dance partners etc.)
It is a very romantic and charming accessory from the very early 19th century. The symbolism in design of each half, where the one heart joins another is particularly lovely.
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Fine French Small Antiques; Gilded Bronze, Objets of Vertu, Antique Books, Napoleon III, Porte Montre, Cast Bronze