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A mother of pearl fan, 19thc. | From A Collection of Fans, Part I

Objects of Vertu

A gold mounted Steinkabinett circular bonbonniere set with a micromosaic plaque, unmarked, by Johann Christian Neuber, Dresden, circa 1790.
Sold for £186,000

With pieces from the 17th century to the mid-19th century, objects of vertu were often exchanged as gifts between royalty, aristocrats and court dignitaries. They reflect the prevailing tastes of their times, invariably featuring exquisite decoration in hardstones, mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell, as well as painted enamel and micromosaics.

Snuff boxes, gold boxes, portrait miniatures, desk accessories, decorated fans and enamels are all offered in this category.





Gold lorgnettes, late 19th century, sold for £248

Gold lorgnettes, foliate engraved, from the late 19th century. They are unsigned and probably come from France.

Lorgnettes are named from the French verb – lorgner, to take a sidelong look at; however, they were invented by an Englishman George Adams, an instrument maker and science writer. Lorgnettes were extremely popular in the 19th century and were worn at masquerade parties and the opera.

Art Deco silver and yellow guilloche trinket, 1924
Sold for £198

This Art Deco silver and yellow guilloche enamel circular dressing table trinket box is by Adie Bros, Birmingham, 1924.

The cover features a black silhouette of a classical dancer in a landscape on three fleur de lys legs and the interior is fabric lined.

Adie Brothers registered their hallmarks in the first years of the 20th century. The firm was well known for its vanity cases and mirrors, and specifically for pieces adorned in guilloche enamel.


Ivory brisé fan, English, late 19th century
Sold for £236

An ivory brisé fan, English, from the late 19th century. The guards and sticks pierced and painted with panels centred by lovers and a chaperone in a landscape, with cherubs in clouds flanking.

The accompanying box indicates that the fan was made by Vanier-Chardin, Paris. In an age before air conditioning the hand fan was a useful and occasionally opulent accessory. Fans by this French atelier can be found in the V&A Museum, London and they also made their way to the States as they were a popular purchase on the Parisian leg of the Grand Tour undertaken by wealthy New Yorkers. The Museum of the City of New York holds a particularly fine collection of fans, with examples dating from the 18th century.

Lace fan, French, third quarter 19th century
Sold for £298

A lace fan, French, third quarter 19th century. The stained mother of pearl guards scroll pierced and the conforming guards with ivory supports, with the leaf of lace. By Alexandre, Paris.

Felix Alexandre (b.1823) rose to fame during the 1850s to become fan-maker to Empress Eugenie, the Queen of the Netherlands and Queen Victoria – a fact proudly proclaimed in gold letters on the inside of his fan boxes. Not only did Alexandre paint fan leaves and produce designs for many of the elaborate sticks and guards, he was also the first fan maker to employ painters and designers who were part of the coterie of fashionable artists working in France at this time.



James Nicholson, FGA, DGA

James Nicholson, FGA, DGA

Deputy Chairman, International Head of Jewellery, Silver and Watches

David Rees

David Rees

Director, Silver, Objects of Vertu and Decorative Arts

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