An exquisite Palais Royal (highly imaginative and cleverly produced decorative and useful objects were sold during this period in the fine shops along the Palais Royal in Paris) example, it originates from a Parisian collection and dates towards 1880.
Sewing needles were precious and treasures such as this were produced to keep the needles visible and safe. True works of art, the figural pieces depicted cast bronze/metal animals who faithfully carried and kept sewing needles.
Mounted onto a large, rectangular marble base, a team of mules pulls a large cart. The cart bears a gilded brass barrel, which serves as a pin cushion and a mother of pearl shell which serves to hold the thimble. The mules are finely detailed: Their harness, saddles and even the blankets have fine markings which depict patterns and forms. Their little faces and quirky ears are just adorable. They step forward in sync with each other, left feet lifted. The cart has six gilded brass "logs" for the base. Four very life like wheels mount onto the base. The mother of pearl half is has a gilded brass upper mount. It holds a brass thimble which is included with the piece (not the original). The gilded brass barrel has a repeating diamond pattern. It holds a cushion which is covered in velvet. (we picture this with pins but they are for display, not for sale with the piece). The entire figural work is mounted securely into the marble base.
It measures: base: 5 1/4" x 3 1/4", figural work: 4 1/2" wide, mules 1 1/4" tall at heads, the cart including mother of pearl height 2"; the cart and mother of pearl is 1 1/2" wide. It is in very good antique condition: It can be polished to a brighter hue but we chose to leave the lovely patina of age and use. There are no cracks or chips to the mother of pearl, there are a few odd bends to the lower edge mount as is typical with authentic antique examples.
It is a delightful sewing accessory from the past and a magical work of decorative art from the Palais Royal era.