Absolutely exquisite mid-Victorian mother-of-pearl ladies calling card case. Antique card cases are not uncommon; a Birmingham trade directory of 1873 lists 38 mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell and ivory workers producing visiting card cases to meet the demand! What sets this one apart is the stunning, low relief carved central panel, featuring two love birds settled in a floral basket and surrounded by a fruit tree. The detail of the carving is truly exceptional and, along with the iridescence of the nacre, shows this was a case of quality for a lady of some distinction. The carved panel is set against a border with mitred edges and and etched vine edging.The back if the case follows a similar pattern save the central panel is plain apart from zig-zag detailing around the edges. There is a push-in button to release the catch which is still in good condition and the original dark blue velvet lining is still in place. The case is in remarkable condition for its 160+ years. The only slight damage is loss to the banding on the inside of the lid; see photo 10, but this could be easily repaired if desired.
This tiny defect is reflected in the asking price. Dimensions: length 10.1cms x width 7cms x depth 0.8cms. Calling cards were an essential accessory for the upper classes during the Regency and Victorian periods, used as a tool to represent one's status or intentions in society and their use was surrounded by complex etiquette. For example, a married woman was expected to leave one of her cards for each adult female in a family she was visiting. She also had to leave two of her husband's cards.
If a particularly impressive visitor arrived and left their calling card, hosts would then display this on a silver tray for as long as possible, so other guests were aware of their high societal standing! Women's card cases were larger than men's, presumably because they were carried in handbags rather than in tighter breast pockets. Gentlemen's cases were much slimmer and plainer for this reason. Raised decoration would catch on pocket linings. This is a highly decorative piece of social history which will appeal to the collector of Victoriana or someone who just treasures lovely things!
This item is in the category "Antiques\Silver\Solid Silver\Card Cases". The seller is "atlantaa" and is located in this country: GB. This item can be shipped worldwide.