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A TORTOISESHELL AND GOLD PIQUE SNUFF-BOX

Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
Please note Payments and Collections will be unavailable on Monday 12th July 2010 due to a major update to the Client Accounting IT system. For further details please call +44 (0) 20 7839 9060 or e-mail info@christies.com
A TORTOISESHELL AND GOLD PIQUE SNUFF-BOX

PROBABLY ITALIAN, CIRCA 1750

Details
A TORTOISESHELL AND GOLD PIQUE SNUFF-BOX PROBABLY ITALIAN, CIRCA 1750 Rectangular tortoiseshell box, the hinged cover and sides all over inlaid with piqué-point osier pattern, the cover centred with a piqué-posé foliate quatrefoil bordered by gold rocaille and piqué-point strapwork bordered oval cartouche, the borders of the cover and sides similarly inlaid, slightly raised applied gold thumbpiece chased as a scroll 3 3/8 in. (85 mm.) wide
Provenance
Possibly acquired on the Grand Tour in Italy by John and Georgiana Spencer, later 1st Earl and Countess Spencer (1734-83) and thence by descent.
Literature
Albert Edward John, 7th Earl Spencer (1892-1975), Catalogue of Snuff Boxes at Althorp, 1937, no. 5
Special Notice

Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
Please note Payments and Collections will be unavailable on Monday 12th July 2010 due to a major update to the Client Accounting IT system. For further details please call +44 (0) 20 7839 9060 or e-mail info@christies.com

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Lot Essay

The technique of inlaying tortoiseshell with mother-of-pearl, gold and silver probably originated in Naples towards the end of the 16th Century. In his catalogue The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: Furniture, Clocks and Gilt Bronzes, London, 1974, II, p. 838, Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue refers to the collection of 'picay' work formed by Queen Charlotte, consort of King George III, which included an inkstand and two snuffboxes, all later sold at Christie's London, 18 May 1819, lot 30; 25 May 1819, lot 67 and 26 May 1819, lot 17. Robert Adam is recorded as having bought three 'very handsome snuff-boxes of yellow and black tortoise-shell studded with gold' on a visit to Naples in 1755 (J. Fleming, Robert Adam and his Circle, London, 1962, p. 157) and in a letter dated 1771 Lady Anne Miller remembered: '... this city (Naples) is famous for a manufacture in tortoiseshell, which they inlay curiously with gold, and are very ingenious at representing any object you choose. I have had a comb made for my chignon incrusted with gold, to imitate an Etruscan border, copied from an antique vase, which is so well done, that we have bespoke several other articles.'. It would certainly seem likely that the 1st Earl and Countess Spencer would have seen and admired such 'picay' works on their Italian Grand Tour of 1763-4.

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