A charming remnant of the old 1700s-1800s French pocket 'necessaire' carried by most gentlemen in a vest pocket, by military officers in field, by ladies, as well. This is a rather unique one I just found in Paris. The body is marked with the French boar's head profile punch mark, guarantee used from 1838 forward for .800/1000 pure silver or 2nd titre. The grade of silver is used for small and often delicate items where strength was a concern, so we see it in sewing sets quite often and in small treasures like this. The body has an outer coating, probably leather or perhaps shagreen, that has been worked in the layered decorative style known as "Vernis Martin" or 'varnish Martin' taken from the Martin Brothers technique popularized during the reign of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The Martins layered paints and varnishes to get a deep and thrilling surface that could not be done in other ways. The varnish often darkens over time and so many of these items are now much more muted in tone that they would have appeared when new. It's part of the charm that they have that muted tone with pastels, however, as you can see in this little vest etui or necessaire. The case is in remarkably fine condition and opens to reveal a selection of the original items depended upon in travel and daily life. Something like the forerunner of the Swiss Army Knife, they often had knives, pencils, writer's note leaves (like the one shown in this set) and containers that might have held anything from needles to gun powder or tea. They were filled with scissors, stiletto, needle case and perhaps a scent bottle, for either men or women. They remain today as a charming item to collect and display. We have a great selection of them if you're starting out, or some of the really fine ones if you've been collecting a while. Just ask and we'll point you the way to them.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, the outer case is in remarkably unscathed condition showing us it's been well treasured over time. The interior, as well, has several of the original fittings as shown in our images. Fabuous for display, or tuck in your vest pocket and bring it out whenever the need arises. We'd date this one c.1840-70, not from the period of Marie-Antoinette.
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