This exceptional antique medical device is unique in many ways. Firstly, it is a solid silver tongue depressor, made in 1770, in France. Tongue depressors began production in the late 1600's, early 1700's. So this is a fairly early piece. Moreover, it's size, at 9.25" long, distinguishes it; as does it's high level of ornamentation. Next, the manner of decoration is itself unusual. Please see among the photos, several images of other depressors, much simpler in style and virtually without ornamentation. This depressor is decorated with a handle in the shape of a vase, engraved with flowers, and gadrooned edge. There is a dollop of gilt at the very top, on a circular mount. Since tongue depressors were frequently offered as presentation gifts to favored physicians; this one would seem clearly more representative of this variety of tongue depressor. As opposed to one a physician would actually use examining a patient. The marks on the piece include two maker's punches, initials "JBL". Typically, the maker's punch is the most useful information pertaining to dating French silver; but this maker is not known. However, authentication of the depressor by Marine de Cenival, senior-specialist, silver, at Christie's Paris office, substantiates the date 1770. We also find the tete sanglier, or 'boar's head', the French .800 silver guarantee, and it is clearly visible.
Of equal importance to the unique qualities of this antique medical instrument is the provenance. Until acquired by Bonheur-du-Jour, this tongue depressor belonged to the French Royal family. That is, to the man who would be King of France if the Royalist 'party' still reigned (pun intended). Among the photos below also please find images of the current Prince Henri, and his mother (d2003). Princess Isabelle was the oldest daughter of the heir to the Empire of Brazil. Included with the photos are images of the royal arms for the Dauphin of France, the Dynasty of Oreaes-Bragance, and the arms of the "July Monarchy". I like to refer jokingly to the 'Royal Tongue Depressor'. But joking aside, and in accord with what the Duke had to say of this and other pieces of the family treasure, this item is important to the history of France, as well as to the history of political power in France, and the French royal family.
Condition is very good to excellent. Some minor irregularities at the very bottom. Some minor wear. The engraved decoration is quite deep; so it's in excellent condition. The measurements, 9.25" long, 2.25" wide and weight: 85 grams; quite hefty. The marks as described above; tete sanglier and maker's punch initials JBL.