Vachette was one of the best-known of the Parisian gold boxes makers at the turn of the 18th to the 19th Century. He struck his mark in 1779 and later worked together with Nitot, one of the court jewellers of Emperor Napoleon I. Henry Nocq (Le poinçon de Paris, Paris, 1968, [reprint], p. 76), praises Vachette: 'Avant et après la Révolution les plus belles tabatières d'or sont marquées du poinçon de Vachette.' Serge Grandjean (et. al., The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, Fribourg, 1975, p. 344) noticed the importance of Vachette's co-operation with the miniaturist Jacques-Joseph de Gault. For two other boxes by the same 'team', see C. Truman, The Gilbert Collection of Gold Boxes, Los Angeles, 1991, pp. 108-109, and sale Christie's, London, 6 November 2001, lot 185.
The present box was part of the gold boxes collection of Archchancellor Cambacérès. Born in Montpellier, he was elected a deputy at the Convention in 1792 and favoured the execution of King Louis XVI. His legal projects of 1793 were fundamental for the Code Civil. A member of the Conseil des Cinq-Cents, he was chosen by Abbé Sieyès, at Napoleon's request, to be the Second Consul, next to Lebrun and the future Emperor himself. In 1804, Napoléon styled him Archchancellor of the Empire and Duke of Parma.