Falling within the objet d’art category, decorative boxes and bottles are used to house portable items in sophisticated style. The history of the functional box varies widely as each culture has different uses and origins of the box. In Europe, perhaps one of the first decorative boxes to emerge was the women’s workbox which was used to contain the materials required for needlework. Fine surviving examples of the workbox date to the 17th century and include feminine motifs.
Snuff boxes became particularly popular amongst men and were created in fine metals, tortoise shell, mother of pearl and set with an array of precious gemstones. These extravagant designs on occasion also included painted portraits on the lid which personalised each case. Other boxes emerged in the 1930s which housed cigarettes and matches and include fine enamel and engine turned patterns. Cigarette and match cases were particularly popular amongst royal families with the celebrated imperial Russian jewellers Fabergé creating cigarette cases for Tsar Nicholas II.
Vanity cases for women were also poplar in the 1930s and some included mirrors, files and lighters. In addition to the vanity case, perfume bottles and decanters were also fashioned for women in carved precious gemstones with gold and silver details. Exceptional quality bottles would include elaborately carved rock crystal or other varieties of quartz with a perfectly matched decorative lid.
Beautiful personalised boxes and bottles were considered desirable gifts and keepsakes. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were very well known for gifting intricate handcrafted accessories to friends and loved ones bearing personalised engraved notes or initials. Often these gifts would be commissioned and created by distinguished Parisian jewellers Cartier.
If you are searching for a timeless functional keepsake for yourself or as a special gift, search through our unique accessory collection today.