These splendid vases are fine examples of Swedish porphyry from the earliest phase of production circa 1785-1795. They relate to C.F. Sundvall's designs for porphyry vases, which were executed around 1788-1790. Porphyry was first discovered in the valley of Älvdalen (Elfdal) in 1731 but was not commercially exploited until after 1788 by Eric Hagström under the direction of Nile Adam Bielke.
An inventory prepared by the Stockholm Mining Intendance in the early 19th century, lists no less than twenty-two varieties of porphyry, among which Blyberg, Rannas, Tinguait, Orrlok, Dysberg, Bredvad, and Klytt, each of which was named after the parishes of Älvdalen from which they were quarried (H. Sundblom and I. Tunander, Porphyre - La Pierre Royale, 1990, p.2).
King Karl XIV Johann (1763-1844) of Sweden who developed a keen interest in this rare material, acquired the porphyry quarries upon his accession to the throne in 1818. The porphyry quarries stayed in Royal ownership until 1856. A virtually identical pair of Blyberg vases with ormolu pinecone finial was sold, Christie's, London, 7 July 2005, lot 308 (£33,600), and closely related vases are illustrated in I-B. Sandqvist och & I. Tunander, Porfyr Frän Älvdalen, Porfyrmuseet i Älvdalen, p.18.