Oh, I just love these. Not just for the way they look and their advanced age, but for their story. This is a French billet doux. The term translates directly as "sweet note", and self-describes since it is the courier-delivered case into which cortège of Louis XVI and his Queen Marie-Antoinette communicated and summoned their trysts, love affairs. A clandestine meeting? Arranged through quill penned note rolled and put inside and then sent on its way with a courier, who usually stood waiting as the lover wrote a reply and rolled it and tucked it inside. These are rare now, and in their time were elaborately hand painted or decorated. I've had some that ought to be at the Louvre, such lovely small works of art. This one is a bit plain, someone's favorite colors, perhaps. but painted in Marie-Antoinette's own favorite layered oil paint and varnish technique of decorative arts, referred to as "vernis Martin", after the Martin brothers who created or invented it. Your visit to Versailles (etc) gave you ample interaction with objects and rooms of this layered decorative art. We don't know who owned and used this one. We just know that someone did, before the French Revolution led many to the guillotine. One love filled this tube.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. One silver rim is missing on one side of this 2-compartment billet doux. There is a very small nick in the layered pink/green visible in our photos. The 'envelope', if you will, is 5.25" long and 1" in diameter, easy to conceal. Some want to think this is a cigar holder. Nope - all love. Sweet note. Lined in shell, no damage there. Tube ends slip on and off smoothly, no warp. I realize I didn't align the stripes when I photographed it. Please forgive. The green has iridescence to it, the pink is more flat. Shimmers!
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