Saturday - 20 December 2014

Cigar cutter at Mallett could be a perfect Christmas snip

30 November 2012Written by Anna Brady

Mallett are about to celebrate their first Christmas in their lavish new home, Ely House in Dover Street, Mayfair, where they moved earlier this year when the rents and rates of nearby Bond Street became too much.

This former bishop's palace is quite a place, full of all sorts of furniture, pictures and objects, and - despite the grand, classical exterior which may seem a bit foreboding - they're a friendly bunch inside. You'll find a warm welcome even if just browsing.

Mallett have made several acquisitions recently, including the item pictured here which surely fits into the 'Christmas present for the man who has everything' category.

It's a mid 19th century cigar cutter in the form of a guillotine, but it wasn't made in France itself. In fact, it is a piece of memorabilia from the Îles du Salut, or Salvation Islands, a group of small islands off the coast of French Guyana, and is engraved Souvenir desÎles du Salut.

From 1852 until 1951, these islands were used as a penal colony, and were a harsh place to be - Henri Charrière, a writer who was imprisoned there for nine years, describes the brutality in his novel Papillon, and one of the islands, Devil's Island, was known as 'la guillotine sèche'.

The c.1865 cigar cutter, 15in (38cm) high, is priced at £9500.

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