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A PAIR OF VICTORIAN BOIS DURCI PORTRAIT PLAQUES OF QUEEN VICTORIA AND PRINCE ALBERT
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A PAIR OF VICTORIAN BOIS DURCI PORTRAIT PLAQUES OF QUEEN VICTORIA AND PRINCE ALBERT

CIRCA 1860, ATTRIBUTED TO FRANCOIS LEPAGE

Details
A PAIR OF VICTORIAN BOIS DURCI PORTRAIT PLAQUES OF QUEEN VICTORIA AND PRINCE ALBERT
CIRCA 1860, ATTRIBUTED TO FRANCOIS LEPAGE
4¾ in. (12 cm.) diameter (2)
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

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Anne Qaimmaqami

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Lot Essay

Perhaps the best Victorian achievement with a 'plastic' based on animal polymer was patented in France and England in 1855 by François Charles Lepage, 'literary man of Paris'. He claimed 'A New Composition of materials which may be employed as a substitute for wood, leather, bone, metal and other hard or plastic substances'. His composition was made up from blood (from the Paris slaughterhouses) and powdered wood, mixed with colouring to simulate wood. He heated and stirred the mixture until it acquired the 'correct consistency' and then moulded it in a heated mould. The mixture was cured under heat and pressure yielding a hard, dense, glossy, moulding.

His claim refers to small household items, combs, pipe stems, etc. The SOCIETE DU BOIS DURCI was established to produce desk items, especially decorative inkwell stands and plaques. The factory was at Grenelle in Paris and products were sold through A Latry & Cie. of 7 Rue du Grand-Chantier, (Au Marais) in Paris. In 1862 he exhibited the wares of the Societé at the International Exhibition.

By the end of the 20th Century, the firm had been taken over by MIOM (La Manufacture d'Isolants et Objets Moulés) which was founded in 1898. They continued to make Bois Durci until about 1920, by which time it had been superseded by newer plastics materials, such as bakelite.

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