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 superb condition with figures like this one. There are 8 miniature portraits, really, of winged putti, feels feminine. 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!
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, very little loss to the oil paintings. Superb 18k layer on silver bands, marked with French boar's profile mark to guarantee 18k layer on sterling silver, and also affirms it has been sold at auction in France at some time after 1838, the mark to insure it is not taken for 18k solid gold - the bands fitted on both top and bottom. Most have chips, disruptions in the hand painted images, damage to ends or loss of the bands - this one has no flaws to note, really. Displays perfectly well, and has both vermeil bands (some get lost) and the interior liner is fully intact without any loss or damage. Measurements noted on photos, but it is an average size for these, at 5 1/2" long and 1" in diameter.
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