Property of an Italian private collection

A gold and enamel snuff box, M&P, probably Hanau, circa 1780

Auction Closed

May 25, 03:15 PM GMT


5,000 - 7,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property of an Italian private collection

A gold and enamel snuff box, M&P, probably Hanau, circa 1780

oval, the lid centred with a later enamel plaque of a young couple decorating a classical bust on a pedestal, on vermiculated opalescent pink ground, within a border of alternating enamelled white beads and green leaves on a matted ground, the sides similarly decorated, the dividers formed of enamlled urns on a sablé ground, maker’s mark M&P crowned over heart, within two leafy sprigs, the rim numbered 521, in velvet-lined shagreen case

6.7cm., 2⅝in. wide


The present box belongs to a small group of high-quality boxes in multicoloured gold or enamel which were most probably made in Hanau between circa 1760 and 1780, struck with a similar set of marks: MP and MP crowned, MP crowned over heart, AP crowned, AP over C crowned, each surrounded by leafy sprigs. The Wallace Collection owns four such boxes (Charles Truman, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Gold Boxes, London, 2013, cat. nos 73 - 76). For another gold box of similar date, struck M&P crowned incuse , set with an oval enamel plaque representing Genius and Beauty, see Sotheby’s London, 10 November 2021, lot 19.

It is now believed that boxes marked with any of the aforementioned marks were indeed made by the same constellation of makers or in the same workshop, the letter C probably being an abbreviation of ‘Compagnie’. The industrious town of Hanau, close to Frankfurt, nearly rivalled Geneva in terms of the enormous output of high quality Galanteriewaren from the late 18th to the early 19th century. A system of ‘Fabriken’ had been established by similar principles to the Geneva ‘Fabrique’ - members of this network of goldsmiths, engine-turners, casemakers, lapidaries, watchmakers and enamellers often worked together in order to achieve certain benefits such as tax reliefs. Many of these large families of Huguenot origins were related to each other through various marriages in Hanau and Geneva (see Julia Clarke, 'The Geneva Fabrique: Watch case makers to enamel painters', in: The Majesty of the Chinese Market Watch, Ian White and Julia Clarke, London, 2019). Stylistic crossovers and strong similarities with regards to techniques, colour and construction of gold boxes, toothpick or bodkin cases and other objects of vertu are therefore not surprising.