I just love these old things. The history is as fun as the object. 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 might be a hunting scene like this one. Hound and game hens, 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.
This one has 2 portraits of figures playing instruments. They appear to be Scotsmen. Also a dog and there's a little face, also. I've shown it from all sides so you can see the charming old etui. The 2 compartments in this one each have 18k gold bands, though the longest portion is missing one half, and the bottom or smaller one has one original matching that above, and a replacement on the end cap's rim. It's the only 'flaw' to note. Remarkably unscathed, it does have the surface crackle to the old Vernis Martin painting. Both of the tortoise shell inner sleeves are fully intact. Measurements noted on the photos.
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