I love these! The era was that of Marie-Antoinette, c.1750-80, when Nobles' marriage was often political or about property and heritage, and little to do with love. Affairs of the heart were something separate and relatively prolific among French Nobility and Courtiers and sweet notes (direct translation of Billet Doux) were rolled and tucked inside these tube etui, sent off with one's trusted courier - perhaps arranging a tryst, or just a poem or note declaring the depths of the heart's longing. The tubes have an inner liner, typically are 1 compartmented, but some have 2 compartments, all the better to tuck in a ring or earrings, a bauble or flower. This is a double compartmented Billet Doux. In the Queen's favorite decorative style, this is a true work of art in layered paint and varnish - a style invented by the brothers Martin, and ever after known simply as Vernis Martin. RARE in that it is in remarkably fine condition (I only buy the best!). Likely a gentleman's Billet Doux, this, it is decorated in hunting scenes, a rifle leans against a tree beside a hanging stag, and game birds and a hunting hound also are painted. The 4 bands are fine old 18th century French silver. Some in my collection are ringed in 18k gold, but some go missing. Full measurements noted on the photos.
Very good to excellent condition throughout, age and type considered. Remarkably well preserved, the layered varnish and paint decoration has only a couple of very small losses (photos show from all views). All of the silver rings are intact and tightly adhered. The interior shell inserts into which the rolled notes would be tucked are both pristine, without a nick nor hairline. I did clean the entire piece, brought the bands up to silver again rather than just tarnish, and the entire surface is clean. No odors. RARE item, museum piece! I'm putting all of my collection out now. No one has a finer collection of these RARE and storied cases!
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