There are many references to piqué work in advertisements and sale catalogues of the 17th and 18th Centuries. In his catalogue of 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 snuff-boxes, all later sold Christie's London, 18 May 1819, lot 30; 25 May 1819, lot 67 and 26 May 1819, lot 17. Sir 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 (see J. Fleming, Robert Adam and his Circle, London, 1962, p. 157) and later in the century Lady Anne Miller refers to a comb bought while in Naples in a letter of 1771, (Lady Anne Miller, Letters from Italy, London, 1776, III, p. 243-244, see de Bellaigue, op. cit. p.838).
'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...'
The technique of inlaying tortoiseshell with mother-of-pearl, gold and silver probably originated in Naples towards the end of the 16th Century, judging by the number of contemporary references to the Neapolitan piqué work. Piqué was also produced in France and Germany, (see C. Le Corbeiller, European and American Snuff Boxes, 1730-1830, London, 1966, p. 84).