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Antique French Billet Doux, Silver and Mother of Pearl, Very Early 1800s
Antique French Billet Doux, Silver and Mother of Pearl, Very Early 1800s
Antique French Billet Doux, Silver and Mother of Pearl, Very Early 1800s
Antique French Billet Doux, Silver and Mother of Pearl, Very Early 1800s
Antique French Billet Doux, Silver and Mother of Pearl, Very Early 1800s

Antique French Billet Doux, Silver and Mother of Pearl, Very Early 1800s

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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. While to my taste, the most wonderful are these hand painted ones, this silver foil inlay mother of pearl one is a close second. Late 1700s, the inlay foils were popular in the time of Marie-Antoinette. Yes, like this one. You might be more familiar with small necessaire and scent caddies made in this same way from the same era.  This one is superb! 

Very good to excellent condition, the mother of pearl veneer panels are worked on silver (very tiny poincon can be found on inside lip). Some bits of inlaid foil missing, which is very typical in these old ones - review our photos. Both end pieces are in place as is the collar, so it's complete. The history of these is as fascinating and romantic as are the billet doux, themselves. Collect!