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.