The field of gold boxes and vertu is one of the strongest and most exciting areas of collecting. As the market leaders, Christie’s offers exceptional English and Continental gold boxes and objects of vertu from the 17th century to the middle of the 19th century. Christie’s has also orchestrated record-breaking sales of important American objects of vertu, which are sold in New York. Recent prices achieved by Christie’s demonstrate the depth and strength of this collecting field. Notably featured are Saxon hardstone boxes by Johann Christian Neuber and Louis XV boxes by top French makers like Jean George and Jean Ducrollay. We also offer masterpieces by the premier Swiss, German, Dutch and Russian makers of their time.
The category comprises a broad range of gold boxes and objects of vertu, from luxurious royal presentation snuff-boxes to delicate sealing-wax cases. Gold snuff-boxes were impressive gifts exchanged between royalty, aristocrats and court dignitaries. These elegant boxes were also given as mementoes to loved ones and continue to hold a highly personal allure for collectors. Primarily dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, object of vertu are made of precious materials such as crystal, mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, lacquer, carved hardstones, jewels, and as many as four colours of gold. Often sumptuously adorned with enamels, painted miniatures, or micromosaics, these objects perfectly encapsulate the important stylistic elements of their time.
Christie’s achieved a world auction record price of £787,250 for a Saxon hardstone ‘Stein-Cabinet’ snuff-box by Christian Gottlieb Stiehl in our Important Gold Boxes, Objects of Vertu and Portrait Miniatures Sale in London in 2003. Other world auction records achieved include £65,725 for a Louis XV four-colour gold snuff-box by Jean George (London, 2003). The highlight of a recent sale was a German four-colour gold hunting snuff-box that sold for £121, 250 (London, 2008). Notable single-owner sales have included the Dr Anton C.R. Dreesmann Collection, which realized £1,826,596 in 2002.
Christie’s hosts two sales of Important Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes in London at King Street and two sales of Important Silver, Objects of Vertu and Russian Works of Art in New York.
Centuries of Style Silver, European Ceramics, Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes
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Jeanne Sloane is Head of the Silver department and Senior Vice President at Christie’s New York. Before joining Christie’s in 1981, Mrs. Sloane was Curator of Decorative Arts at the Newport Historical Society, home to a collection of early Rhode Island silver. She has published articles for Antiques Magazine, Art & Auction, and several other periodicals. In 1993, she was awarded the Decorative Arts Society’s annual prize for her article on the engraved silver of Joseph Leddel of New York. She has contributed to silver exhibitions at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and the Bermuda National Gallery, publishing her study on Bermuda Silversmiths in the Journal of the London Silver Society in 2001. She has appeared as a silver appraiser on Public Television’s Antiques Road Show. At Christie’s, Mrs. Sloane is responsible for new business development, conducting appraisals, identifying antique silver for consignment, and researching silver included in the auctions. Her work has resulted in a number of discoveries, including a ‘lost’ renaissance cup from the Victor Rothschild collection, several unrecorded examples of American Colonial silver, and the first exclusive auction of silver by Georg Jensen, which totaled nearly $9 million in 2005 - a record for any silver auction at Christie’s New York. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art History and American Studies from Brown University and a Master’s degree in the history of decorative arts from the Winterthur Museum, Delaware.