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What I Did on My Summer Vacation or Boxes I Found When I Was in New York, July 2002.
For me there are few things more fun than hunting around through all sorts of "stuff" looking for something I might want to own. I did lots of that while I was in New York. I spent hours going through everything that Chamart, Rochard and Artoria had and I found some wonderful things. One of my best "finds" are the boxes you see below, Pure white porcelain, blanc de chine, done in antique molds dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.These are done just as the original boxes were done and although the topics aren't as intricate and sophisticated as some that are done today, you must remember that every box was "new" then because this was the very beginning of "snuff boxes" as fashionable accessories so they were all exciting because nothing like these had ever been made before. Yes, there were already many different types of boxes but not figural boxes such as these. These appeared only after hard paste porcelain was being made in France and that was at the end of the 18th century.The boxes are all made with the same hinges and clasps and they are quite simple using none of the more elaborately designed hinges that we see today. The hinges were nothing more than a means of keeping the snuff intact inside the box. They were not particularly decorative nor were they meant to be and yet, their simplicity is exactly right for the naiveté of the boxes that were made then. It is my hope that you will enjoy owning these as much as I enjoyed finding them, These boxes, by the way, are exclusive to us, The Perfect Gift, and no one else will have them. (Also, if you must have a painted box, they are available painted but to my mind what makes these so extraordinary is that they are such exquisite porcelain and you will miss that if you purchase them painted. One other thing, there will be a vast difference in the pricing.)

There is one more thing to mention: you will notice that these boxes are all just a bit larger than those we see today. The reason being that these were actually used to hold snuff and there had to be enough stored in them to be able to offer it around to all those with whom the box owner spent his time. Remember, these were used by royalty, the court and the wealthiest mercantile families.

This item is by Special Order only
A. The Revolutionary War Soldier Box.
A strange item to be made in France then? Not at all. The Revolution in the United States was just over and France was heavily involved both in helping us to fight it to sever ourselves from England and in financing it for our fledgling country which had no treasury at all to speak of. Without France we never could have fought that war and certainly would not have won our independence. So the subject matter was timely and implied knowledge of something about which commoners knew little. The box is a Revolutionary Soldier dressed in his tri-corner hat, the longer jacket that was part of the dress in that period with his flintlock lying close at hand, resting for a few moments, his head supported by his hand. Closer examination and you see his neckerchief, his breeches and boots, his hair tied in what we now call a pony tail and the tie that held it. From Chamart, just for The Perfect Gift: $99.90.
B. The American Bison Box. The Bison, found only in the Central and Western portions of the United States in what was almost completely unexplored territory then owned by France. We didn't purchase it from France until 1803 and it was the Louisiana Purchase that got us everything from Louisiana north to Canada and almost, but not quite, to the Pacific Ocean. (The rest came later when Lewis and Clark claimed it for us.) The animal was unknown in all other countries. Again, this showed a certain sophistication on the part of the owner of the box to even have been aware of such an animal. It implied knowledge of a country that was half way around the world and very few had that knowledge since almost none of them had ever been to the New World. Snuff boxes were used to impress people and the makers of them availed themselves of every conceivable device with which to do that. Again, the details in the sculpting of the box are exact and numerous. From the tiny beard hanging from the animal's chin to the small, closely held ears, the massive head and the very coarse and full coat of fur that covered the animal's chest and shoulder area, the short and curly tail and the smooth fur across the hind quarter of the massive beast. The hillock on which it stands is covered with coarse grasses and rocks which are done in relief. From Chamart, just for The Perfect Gift: $99.90.
C. The Monkey Box. A fairly recent import to France in the early 19th century, not native to the country, and a toy for nobility and the rich who loved to watch their antics. This tiny primate is holding his head with one hand and his foot with the other, a common position for monkeys. Scattered around him on the base of the box is a mirror, some bananas and a ball, all of which he either played with or ate.Even then monkeys were enough like humans to love peering at themselves in mirrors. From Chamart just for The Perfect Gift: $99.90.
D. The Horse Box. The horse was the only means of transportation then either for riding or for pulling the carriage of his owner. Very few other than royalty and the rich had horses, for the most part donkeys were used by farmers and for commoners their feet provided their transportation.
This creature is beautifully sculpted and a handsome animal. He is at rest, lying down with clumps of grass around him and small stones nearby. This was not a working animal but one that was carefully groomed and given good care. His head is noble and beautifully shaped. Close inspection shows his mane, the bone structure of his head and face, the muscles in his hind quarters and a full and flowing tail. From Chamart just for The Perfect Gift: $99.90.
The nobility and the wealthy had Chateaux and Estates which in addition to housing them also were farmed. Chateaux provided housing, food and pleasure. The residents hunted on their own estates and regularly went on shooting parties that supplied fowl for the table. The Loire Valley was and is famous for the magnificent Chateaux that dot the countryside hence the interest of the nobility in boxes that portrayed animals, birds and peasants.
E. The Sow and Her Brood Box. This is the box that I have always called "The Filling Station".It is a box with which I have been familiar for a great many years, long before I ever was involved even privately with Limoges boxes. I remember seeing such a box but I cannot recall whether it was in my Mother's collection of Limoges porcelain or if I saw it in museum or if I saw it elsewhere although I cannot imagine where else I would have seen it. I do know that I have seen it, perhaps 70 years ago. I have always loved it and was delighted to find it in this collection. The sow is lying on her side and five tiny piglets are feeding. The detail is wonderful even to the facial expression of the sow. From Chamart just for The Perfect Gift: $99.90.
F. The Dove Box. Every farm had a dovecôte and dove's provided small fowl and eggs for the table hence the Dove box. Running your hand over this box you can feel each individual layer of feathers and on close inspection you can easily see the difference in tail feathers from body feathers. Twigs and grasses form the base of the box. From Chamart just for The Perfect Gift: $99.90.
G. The Kingfisher Box. Native to river areas in France was the Kingfisher, a bird with a very long pointed beak used for catching fish! Because all the great estates were on or adjacent to rivers Kingfishers were common to them. The bird lives burrowed into the banks of creeks and rivers. And I hear someone asking, "Were all chateaux on rivers?" Well, it was either that or lots of carrying and not lots of water. They needed water and rivers are where most of it came from. These lavish estates may have been magnificent but they all lacked indoor plumbing of any sort. From Chamart just for The Perfect Gift: $99.90.
The following item is by Special Order only.
H. The Farmer's Wife Box.
Lying on the river bank with a bowl and scoop close by, she has been working in the fields and is resting for a moment after getting a cool drink of fresh water. If you examine the box closely you will see rocks along the river bank, a jug for carrying water and a flower growing along the water's edge. The figure is very specifically detailed and her clothing is simple and typical of the period for a peasant. A loose kercheif covers her head. From Chamart just for The Perfect Gift: $99.90. (A slightly different version of this box was the Nun Box and we are going to be having that as well.)

 

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