You know, we've just started an Antiques & Uncommon Treasure site on Facebook, and the first day we have 158 'fans' - so many people truly love antiques, don't they. And is it any wonder when you see something like this magnificent late 1700s gentleman's or officer's vest pocket 'necessaire' and open it to find the fascinating and truly gorgeous fittings within, most of which remain. The tiny spoon is a medicines spoon, some say a snuff spoon, but my research says it's medicinal in nature (okay, so perhaps snuff WAS the medicinal). The beautiflly crafted silver tool with barly-twisted center handle is a toothpick on one end and a tiny ear-wax spoon on the other (yes, fact!). The stylus remains, though it does have a dent in the top end, and the note wafer, which is actually 2 wafers joined by a gromet, remains but is missing 3/4 of the one wafer. The gold knife, contemporary tool for eating just about anything in that time, is in remarkably fine condition. I did not test it. I believe it is likely sterling silver vermeil (sterling with an 18k gold layering, a la' Francaise). Yes, a French etui, more than likely, it might have attended a dignitary visiting Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette when they were still at Versailles and still had their heads. It might be a bit later and, tales told, have gone through battles at the side of Napoleon. The fitted etui like these date 1760-1820, roughly, and among them, this one stands out as a fine example. The outer covering, for those who don't know what 'shagreen' is, is leather from the skin of either a shark's belly, or from a stingray. The black and courser scale/grain on this one would suggest shark's belly, while the very fine green shagreen items of the same era are the finest belly skins of stingray. Studded with silver, none of which is missing, this particular shagreen covering is as near pristine as I've ever seen on an etui this old. Amazing, isn't it!
Very good to excellent, given age and type. There are a few original implements no longer in the etui, if you look closely at the openings, one can surmise a missing notepad for the elongated opening, a bodkin (lacing needle) for the slender and rounded opening. The only flaw on the etui is a very slight separation in the silver at the top rim, and only noted upon very close inspection but we wish to disclose (as the previous owner did not, I might add). A superb piece, all told, and well over 200 years of age.
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