Saturday, January 25, 2014

Unusual Artifacts: Scent Bottle with the Cipher of Queen Charlotte, 1805

Scent Bottle
With the Cipher of Queen Charlotte
Crystal, Silver Gilt, Colored Paste, Enamel
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Wife of King George III, Queen Charlotte had a taste for fine, exotic fragrances. Her vanity was frequently said to be lined with glittering scent bottles. Very often, the fragrances were sent to her from India as gifts from the Nabob of Arcot along with a host of unusual jewels and luxurious fabrics.

This scent bottle was made in England specifically for the Queen and was meant to hold one of the fragrances which the Nabob had gifted to her. Its design is inspired by the jewels that the Nabob had sent to Queen Charlotte. The crystal bottle is adorned with paste “rubies,” “diamonds” and “emeralds.” The base of the bottle is engraved with Queen Charlotte’s crowned cipher and the peculiar motto, “Patent Paratout.” This is unusual since those words usually only appear on a particular type of umbrellas made in the early 1800’s.

By all accounts, Queen Charlotte favored this bottle and used it often. After her death, it was included in a collection of the Queen’s things that were saved. Somehow, in 1934, it was acquired by Mary of Teck. Queen Mary had a way of collecting all manner of interesting objects. The exact method she used to return this little masterpiece to the Royal Collection is unknown.

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