Christie's | Fine Art Auction House

Gold Boxes & Objects of Vertu

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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.

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