Photos by Brit Huckabay
Tortoiseshell and Ivory were used extensively during the 18th and 19th centuries for every kind of decorative or beautiful object d’art. During the period that England ruled India, ivory embellishments began to appear on what had been plain tortoiseshell objects. Often, the ivory was carved, pierced, or drawn upon to make a piece more ornate. Faux tortoiseshell bamboo began to be utilized in every kind of furniture during the 19th century. Tables, chairs, bookcases, cabinets, entry pieces, mirrors, and many more kinds of furniture were designed from faux bamboo during Queen Victoria’s reign. It is versatile, eclectic, and still popular in today’s 21st century.
Calling Card Cases came into widespread usage during the 18th and 19th centuries. To be considered a person of significant social stature, if a lady made a social call on another, a card was proffered at the door. Depending upon who she was calling to see, card corners were bent upon the card being offered. It was important that the case holding m’ lady’s cards were as fine and tasteful as the lady herself. They were usually made of tortoiseshell or mother-of-pearl.
Patch Boxes were a necessary item for fine ladies (and gentlemen) in the 18th and 19th centuries. Within the boxes, tiny, shaped, taffeta patches were kept to adorn their faces and to cover up unsightly blemishes. A gummed backside kept them in place. They were often made in the form of crescents, stars, and round beauty spots. A fine patch box, usually made of ivory or tortoiseshell, always had a mirror attached to the inside top lid, which was hinged to the bottom. The outside top often had decorative, gold pique work and applied gold edging.
Georgian Eye Miniatures (Lover’s Eyes) became all the rage when the future George IV, of England, was the Prince Regent. George lived a fast life, as did the members of his court. There were scandalous affairs everywhere. Lover’s Eyes were paintings of a (usually) single eye of a person’s lover, worn or carried as a pin, ring, bracelet or other object, which the recipient could privately cast his gaze upon and fondly remember the person who gave it to him. They were painted in great detail on ivory and are rare and highly collectable today.
Meerschaum Pipes are made from a substance found primarily in Central Turkey. Meerschaum is
often found floating on water in the Black Sea; beginning as a white color, it gradually turns a
rich brown from the heat generated from the bowl of the pipe. Meerschaum is known to have
been used for pipe bowls since 1785 and is usually carved very decoratively.