Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin
Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin

Antique c.1750s French Billet Doux, Peacock and Hen, Love Birds, Florals, HP Vernis Martin

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These are rare! Oh, listing this one a few minutes after selling the one we had with a dog on it. They never stay with us long. 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 might be a hunting scene like this one. Peacock in full display, a pair of lovebirds and peahen, butterfly, beautiful overall decoration - it might have belonged to a gentleman. 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. 

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. The typical crackle to the very old Vernis Martin, which would not keep it from being a museum display, by the way - I know, I go!  A slight roughness/loss around where that  band fits on both longer bottom rims, but they're missing altogether at the smaller end collars (see images). A little disruption there between the 2 love birds, which we've shown very clearly for your review. Displays perfectly well, and has 2 brass bands (some get lost, in this case the other 2) 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 7/8" long, 7/8" diameter.