Limoges enamel has its English equivalent in the rustic little boxes produced by artisans in the South Staffordshire towns of Bilston and Wolverhampton during the late 18th century.
These trinkets are now much sought after by enthusiasts and the 54-lot private collection offered at Duke’s Dorchester sale was a sell-out success, despite the fact that almost all the lots were damaged.
About half a dozen dealers and collectors were seen to contest the snuff, patch and scent boxes, and it was no surprise to learn that the highest prices were bid for the larger, and more unusual pieces.
The best seller was this 31/2in by 21/2in (9 x 6cm) portable writing case right, the fitted interior decorated with classical scenes in gilt cartouches. It attracted £2000.
Other highlights were a wine funnel, a pair of nutmeg graters, a wax container and a soap box.
The wine funnel, decorated in puce enamels with birds and grapes and flowers, 41/2in (11.5cm) high, made £1300; the egg-shaped nutmeg graters in colourful patterns attracted £850; the circular wax container £750, and the spherical soap box and cover decorated with sprays of
flowers, 31/2in by 21/2in (9 x 6cm) £900.
Standard oval patch boxes ranged from £160-280 and etuis were going for around £300-400.