A fabulous find! The trim on this elegant 18th century French billet dour is tested and hallmarked with the tiny French punch prior to 1809, and is solid 18k gold, yellow in color. The body of the case is fine old Vernis Martin and is inset with some tiny diamonds of mother of pearl. The interior liner is shell, dating c.1750-1809, very well preserved for age and type, indeed. Some would misidentify this as a cheroot case, and I suppose one could use it that way, but it's not what the item is. These are truly fascinating old treasures of the era of Marie-Antoinette and shortly before/afterward, and while some misidentify them as being cigar cases, they have a much more fascinating history. This is a French 'billet doux', roughly translated, it means 'sweet note'. In those times, it was white usual for the elite and titled, (and Royals) to have affairs, clandestine meetings with amour as theme, and of course other correspondences with friends and love interests. The typical passing of messages, hand carried by the courier or trusted servant of one person to the intended recipient, these 'billet doux' would hold within them a rolled up and sometimes wax-sealed note. Once received and read, the recipient would often be expected to respond and send the servant back with his or her reply again rolled and housed within the billet doux. These are all roughly the same size, but they were quite broad in decoration. This one is a bit unusual and very beautiful, slightly petit compared to many others. VERY elegant! This one is 4.5" long and 1/2" in diameter.
Very good to excellent condition throughout. I have acid-tested the bands and they are 18k gold, yellow in color. Looks like my photographer missed looking for the very tiny tiny French gold mark, so we'll have another look to see if we can locate one and if so, will have him use microscope camera to capture it if possible. The old French gold mark can be so tiny, most will miss it. But as noted, I also tested to be certain and it is 18k solid gold. The shell body of this one is also in beautiful condition, rich deep dark chocolate color tortoise shell. The surface is good, no damage. The inner insert lip is also in shell, and you see a bit more coloration there, perhaps. Also, that thinner piece shows not a bit of chipping around the rim which is quite unusual with these. . We have several very fine ones right now, all sold separately.
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.
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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