Is that a heart in the pique? I think it is. I love this old thing! This type of patch box or toothpick case was popular in England and Europe from c.1740-1830, and we find them made in numerous fine natural materials such as this one in tortoise shell with fine sterling silver pique and cartouche worked into the surface, and even in precious metals such as gold and silver, as well. The navette form is a personal favorite, though I love the old mourning ones with their hair art 'paintings' protected under glass, too. The interior lid normally would have an old mercury mirror, though this one no longer has one. These were used for patch storage and application, a 'patch' being those black circles applied with adhesive to one's face like a beauty mark. A strange practice, to be sure, by today's standard at least, those black dots often covered other unsightly blemishes, but were thought of as beauty marks against the pale powdered faces of the most stylish elite. A beautiful little box to display, and a wonderful genre to collect.
Very good condition for age and type, this one has several very shallow bug bites, no cracks, chips or damage to note apart from the absence of a mirror inside, or velvet lining, which it may or may not have originally had. The interior is exceptionally clean and displays beautifully open or closed. A very slight natural flaw can be seen in the steam-shaped tortoise shell back near the hinge area, but this is not a chip or damage, but is natural to the shell, itself. All silver pique is still firmly embedded and no rises can be seen or felt. The cartouche has not yet been engraved. Beautiful old shell!
The vast majority of worked and antique object tortoise shell material comes from the shells of two species of sea turtles: the hawksbill (Eretmo-chelys imbricata) and, more rarely, the green turtle (see box A). The shells of these turtles exhibit attractive patterns that normally consist of light to dark brown patches, though a homogeneous “cream”-colored variety called blond tortoise shell also exists. We (and all but DNA test experts) are unable to distinguish between Asian and African elephant ivory, and c.1400-1800s trade routes bringing same into Europe sourced both.
IMPORTANT NOTE regarding antique tortoise shell or ivory: We are great supporters of protection for endangered species in our modern world. We never buy or sell anything 100 years or newer; we donate to anti-poaching organizations; we don't hunt; we conserve in ways that impact global warming (we're totally solar at home), knowing those measures also protect the animals in the wild today. We also recognize the vast cultural history we preserve with our care and reverence for these antique objects, and agree with CITES that objects over 100 years of age have nothing whatsoever to do with species depletion in our current world. We do hold a USDFW import/export license, as well.
Our offering exceeds the age limitation of "more than 100 years of age", and is well within the exemption for CITES regulation. If imported, met the CITES regulation. This item will be handled and shipped from our Utah business, and is not available for shipment internationally, nor within the USA to California, NY, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington if it contains ivory, sorry. Please see our small print for more details.
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