Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gifts of Grandeur: Queen Charlotte's Etui, c. 1750

Queen Charlotte's Etui
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
An etui is a small, rectangular box designed to hold a variety of personal grooming items. Historically, an etui would be carried by a lady in her handbag as a means of keeping small items such as scissors, files and tweezers contained.

Though the practice of carrying an etui has fallen from fashion, they were essential objects during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Often, an etui was treated as an important accessory and was made of precious metals, enameled and jeweled. 

For example, this etui from the Royal Collection which once belonged to Queen Charlotte shows the remarkable detail given to what, today, would be considered an incidental item. Created circa 1740, this case is crafted in gold which has been set with mother-of-pearl and hard-stones. The colored stones and nacre take the form of classical figures. Similarly shaped and decorated etui would have been used as cases for fans, in some instances. These boxes are slightly longer than the usual etui in order to accommodate the length of the fan.

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