BIG! These are usually a lot smaller. This one is probably the 2nd largest we've ever owned, and is a full 8" across. It's set with a working lock, but I do not have a working key at listing time, sorry. We'll continue to try to match one of our spares to it, since it's such a superb and rare item, and we'll annotate the listing once we do (and raise price slightly). In the group photo at the end, it is the super-large one, so you can compare and see how a collected group of your own might look (today as I list this big one, these others shown with it are all for sale separately, by the way - just ask us to point you to them). A superb fine example of the reason these fabulous 19th century French enamel boxes are so sought after, this one rises above all in fine condition. These are usually referred to as Tahan, though only a few have the signature TAHAN Paris on the inner lock plate. This one does not have the signature, but we know they're ones that were marketed through that world class purveyor of goods to the King, elite of the 19th century world. They were, if you ask the French experts, kiln-fired enamels made by enamelists of Sevres, France, or of Bresse, France (Bressen enamel) for the luxury goods maker/seller, TAHAN, Paris (one of the finest purveyors, on par with Tiffany here in the USA for 19th century quality, luxury). The enamel industry from Sevres is not the RMS or Royal Manufactory de Sevres you think of for porcelains, though the skill and talent as decorators working in slip or enamel crosses over between the two industries, therefore making it a simple art to reside among these artisans, after all. This box is not signed, but it is definitely of the finest quality enamel work, and consistent with those others we have and have had that were signed TAHAN, Paris. This process, which I've written about many times, is one only accomplished with the skill of years and years of practice. The enamel powders are various shades of muddy mauve, taupe, blues, not the least resembling the color they will become once the kiln melts them into the glassine or porcelain like finished product you see here. So an artist is layering on stroke after stroke, working quite literally blind as far as the colors and spacing of the finished outcome he/she hopes to achieve. It is the memory that guides the hand in this art. And subject to such whims of nature and memory, it's always amazing to me that they come out with anything but a glob. I've tried this art, myself, and believe me, it's very difficult. I mostly get globs. The nature of the process is part of the reason why these old kiln-fired objects have such a following and bring the prices they continue to bring.
Excellent condition for age and type, it hasn't any chips, cracks, hairlines, or restorations on any of the 5 separately worked convex plaques. The framework and interior are equally exceptional for age, with that silk interior being not only original, but as lovely as they come for these mid-1800s treasures. There is a very slight tilt to the lid's mount, which without a key locking it, shows up as a very slight lift/separation in meeting the bottom half there to the right side of lock. I'll have Rick take a look at that, as well as look for a working key, since he's very good at these little slight adjustments at hinge that set it flat again. Just pointing out that we noted it. The measurements are noted on the photos but it is an oversized 8" long, 4" tall when closed, and 4" front to back. Cabriole legs all mounted well, and nothing missing or damaged on all that opulent jeweled kiln-fired enamel - well, must certainly be a jewel dot or two lost to the years, so look it over closely just in case I missed it by being bedazzled.
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