Nécessaires, Etui de Voyage or work boxes were ladies’ scent and cosmetics boxes that became very fashionable in the eighteenth century. A well to do lady staying with friends could state her position, taste and wealth by the quality of such travelling items. This would never be directly expressed of course but very subtly via the quality of one’s Nécessaire.

Commissioned by the wealthy, aristocracy and most powerful members of society, these boxes and nécessaires were incredibly well made and very skillfully designed to the highest of standards, using the most expensive materials available. These boxes and nécessaires were beautifully formed of gold, with jeweled decorations, enamel and pearls with secret hidden compartments for automata work, they sometimes featured watches and some sort of music. Inside the Nécessaire, was a velvet lined compartment where one can find a wide selection of various tools to keep one’s appearance, such as scissors, a scent bottle, winding key for the mechanisms of the music, automata and watch and many other wonderful curiosities. The leisured classes were fascinated by the virtuosity and elegance of these luxurious mechanical wonders.

Fresh to the market, this exceptional Swiss musical automata Necessaire is one of the largest of its kind. The present owner purchased it from the Private Collection of John Asprey in the early 1990’s. It was also part of an extraordinary exhibition, Exhibit 18 in the Asprey Magic, Music and Motion exhibition in New York.

The only other known Necessaire of equal size is prominently illustrated and described in Automata by Chapuis & Droz, pages 181-182. This example is part of the private collection of Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex.

化妝箱、旅行盒或工具盒在18世紀非常流行,女士會用來收納香水及化妝品。一個造訪朋友家的貴族女性,可以通過這些旅行盒的品質非常微妙、婉轉地來表明自己的地位,品味和財富。

由富有權貴的人委託製作,這些盒子和化妝箱使用了最昂貴的材料,製作精良,設計巧妙,達到了最高的水準。她們多由黃金製成,有珠寶、琺瑯和珍珠裝飾,還有秘密隱藏的活動人偶,有時又具有時計和各種音樂裝置。在化妝箱裡面,有一個天鵝絨的隔層,裏面可以找到各式各樣的工具來協助打扮,如剪刀、香水瓶、用於音樂裝置的鑰匙、活動人偶和時計,以及許多其他奇珍異寶。優雅的上流階層都被這些奢華打扮、技藝高超的機械奇觀所吸引。
首現拍賣,這個非凡的瑞士音樂活動人偶化妝盒為已知最大的一個。現有藏家在90年代初期從John Asprey 的私人珍藏購買。她曾在紐約 Asprey Magic, Music and Motion 被展覽,當時為18號展品。

另一個同等尺寸的化妝盒在Chapuis & Droz 的 Automata 叢書被仔細描繪及記錄,詳見181-182頁。她屬於勞力士創辦人Hans Wilsdorf 的私人珍藏。