Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim

Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, 4 Portrait Miniature, Artist HP Vernis Martin, Sterling Silver Rim

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These are rare! What some think might be a cigar case is, instead, a 1700s "billet doux", or directly translated, "sweet note". The case is that into which love notes, invitations to clandestine trysts and such words of love would be sent by courier to one's beloved. Marriage being what it was among elites and titled persons in Marie-Antoinette's era and earlier, one did not always consort with only one's spouse. A love note would be written, rolled and slid into the tube, closed and perhaps even sealed with a small sealing wax/cachet to avoid prying eyes of even one's trusted courier. These survive today mostly in museum collections. We've had and sold some splendid ones over time. The most wonderful are these hand painted ones, and the most rare of those survive in very good condition with figures like this one. There are 4 miniature portraits, one an artist at easel. The layered varnish and oil paint manner in which it is worked is a favorite of Marie-Antoinette, and was invented by the Brothers, Martin, and is referred to simply as "Vernis Martin" now, as then. The vibrant colors confirm it is 17th century. Just superb! Full measurements noted on photos.

Very good to excellent condition for it's advanced age. This would be 250-280 years old. Imagine the stories it could tell, were it able. Still in very nice condition, a little loss to the oil paintings, one face and a little loss near artist's easel (see images). Superb sterling silver bands, the bands fitted on both top and bottom. The interior tube is excellent.