Lot 97
  • 97


30,000 - 60,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Enamel, gold
  • diameter 70 mm
• circular box, the cover vibrantly painted with a still life of fruit and flowers against translucent midnight blue over engine-turning, the outer rim decorated with etched chevron and tassle motif overlaid in opaque black and tones of blue enamel, repeated on the base of the box centered by translucent midnight blue over engine-turning • the base fitted with sur plateau music work with two combs, activated by a slide on the band, two interior lids stamped with box makers' mark IGRC, in a horizontal lozenge for Rémond, Lamy & Mercier & Co., and PC script, a 3 between


Prominent American Family until present

Catalogue Note

The quality of the painting on the base of this box is exceptional. The Geneva enamelers had specialized in flower painting from the 17th century onwards, and in particular used flower ornament for boxes and watch cases intended for the Eastern export markets. Unfortunately, such pieces are not usually signed, so it is not possible to identify the painters. An exception is a rectangular snuff box painted with an urn of lavish roses and other summer flowers set beside a turtledove’s nest in a pastoral landscape, see: Sotheby’s London, 1 June 2006, lot 45 and now in the Khalili collection, cat. 210.

The mark, PC in script, a 3 between, in an oval, has long puzzled scholars. The mark seems to appear only on Geneva gold snuffboxes of this date, though not exclusively on those made by Jean-George Rémond and his confrères, so cannot be an additional maker’s or company mark. Due to its location in conjunction with a maker’s mark on the lid and base of a box and not the rim, it cannot be a later applied tax or export mark. The small 3 in the center, however, would suggest that it might be an indication of the gold karats.

In 1791 the French Revolutionary government abolished the Ancien Régime’s system of taxing and hallmarking precious metals. By 1797 it was found necessary to introduce some form of regulation with a system of marks indicating the gold title: 1 indicating 22 karats, 2 for 20 karats and 3 for 18 karats. When the French took over Geneva in 1798, the Swiss goldsmiths and watch case makers fought vigorously against any imposition of the French system of hallmarking.  They were successful until the end of 1806 when Napoleon insisted on enforcing the regulations, with some concessions. It is possible, therefore, that the PC mark, although not officially recorded, might be a voluntary indication that the boxes so marked were of the 3rd title of 18 karat gold (the normal Geneva standard). For a further discussion of the gold marking system in Geneva, see: Julia Clarke, ‘Swiss Gold Boxes – Myth or Reality?,' ed. Tessa Murdoch and Heike Zech, Going for Gold, Brighton, 2014, pp. 68-70.

In the case of this box, the mark appears in conjunction with the horizontal lozenge mark IGRC, first entered officially in the Geneva registers in accordance with the Napoleonic decree in 1806, but possibly in use before this and certainly also after the end of French rule in 1814.