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Small ball book in white mother-of-pearl and gilded brass, anonymous author
The 19th century bourgeoisie was crazy about balls organized in town. An opportunity to have fun in good company in an often luxurious setting. Rich clothes, precious jewelry and sophisticated accessories were in order. Among these is the essential ballroom notebook.
This made it possible to note the meetings made by the young girls with gentlemen, as this example proves. Made from precious materials, at the beginning of the 19th century, they were often made of mother-of-pearl and bronze or gilded brass. This example was produced within the framework of the Palais Royal around 1810-1820, which then concentrated in Paris the most important shops of precious objects for a wealthy clientele. The care taken in its realization is notable: vegetal and floral frieze engraved on the flat of the mother-of-pearl, stylus on the edge.
It contains in a small pocket inside, a lock of hair that has probably never been given by the beauty to her date. A dance faux pas? We'll never know...


Catalogue de boutons dumasCatalog n ° 3 of buttons, Dumas-Troisoeufs, Le Mesnil-Théribus (Oise), 1850-1950, cardboard, felt, white mother-of-pearl, gray mother-of-pearl, clam, bugau, goldfish, trochus, metal, enamel, strass and wood
This catalog is one of a series of eight books. It illustrates all the diversity of materials, shapes and sizes of buttons that manufacturers could offer their customers.
Each page consists of a table containing in each box a model of button inset with its reference number. All these cataloged buttons do not date from the same period and could have been made over several generations. Catalog n ° 3 includes fifteen boards on which up to 96 different buttons are sewn.
Thus, by adding the buttons inserted in each of the catalogs, the Dumas-Troisoeufs collection is estimated at nearly 7,000 different models. That left the choice to find the best button for his toilet!


Coupe papier guérault LemarinierLetter opener, Guérault-Lemarinier, Andeville (Oise), first half of the 20th century, white mother-of-pearl
This letter opener comes from the Guérault-Lemarinier company in Andeville, a small village located a few kilometers from Méru.
Making buttons ranging from the most basic to the most worked, engraved or openwork, it also supplied other mother-of-pearl objects such as this letter opener carved with fish and foliage. It was most certainly intended for one of those small seaside shops at the start of the 20th century, which the Méru region was stocked with. This letter opener was fashioned from a single slab of mother-of-pearl. Its dimension of nearly 22 cm therefore makes it an exceptional object. Mother-of-pearl could be very sharp, thus combining the useful with the pleasant.


Opera glassesOpera glasses, anonymous author, 20th century, metal and white mother-of-pearl
In the 19th century, the opera and the theater were essential places for good society. People flock to see new works by the greatest authors and composers. But we go there mainly to see and be seen! Essential accessory to the toilet: binoculars. They are made of metal in series and small format to be easily slipped into a purse or a bag. Intended for a clientele seeking luxury for their objects, they are enriched with noble materials. Mother-of-pearl becomes the favorite material of the twins who make these objects. But the cylindrical shape does not facilitate the work. It is necessary to cut the material into small plates which are then glued to each other. Some also featured telescopic handles. With that impossible to miss the details of the scene!


Bouton Henri HammButterfly-shaped button, Henri HAMM (1871-1961), circa 1914-1920, brown horn, signed "H. Hamm"
Working for the haute couture houses of his time (Doucet, Worth or Premet), tablet-maker Henri Hamm participated in the modernization of the button at the beginning of the 20th century. The avant-garde artist, of Bordeaux origin, was in fact not mobilized for the Great War. He then engaged in an extraordinary work of designing button models. Nearly 350 are born from his prolix imagination. From the utility accessory, Hamm makes it a real jewel of pageantry. Large, colorful, made from precious (mother-of-pearl, wood, horn) or new (galalith) materials, the Henri Hamm button also follows the trends of the time. Thus this butterfly is reminiscent of the motifs of Art Nouveau which was then in vogue and in which insects have a special place. However, these models seem to be prototypes, the impressive size did not facilitate the passage in the buttonhole!


Coupe papierLetter opener, anonymous author, 19th century, white mother-of-pearl
The Guérault-Lemarinier button factory, located in Andeville since 1904, also produced tablet-making such as this letter opener. This object, which aims to be as useful as it is beautiful, was carved from a white pearl oyster whose mother-of-pearl was highly appreciated for its reflections. The handle is decorated with a fine openwork sculpture with floral motifs. Note also the technical nature of the work which, despite its large size (about twenty centimeters) was cut from a single piece of shell. A great achievement! These objects were made by tablet makers to be sold as gifts.
 

Peigne en écailleComb, first quarter of the 20th century, brown tortoiseshell
Since the Washington convention, known as CITES, of 1973, the use of tortoiseshell in tablet-making has been prohibited. However, during the interwar period in particular, it faced a great success in fashion and decorative art. It comes in many accessories: glasses, buttons, jewelry, fans, pen holder, umbrella handles, purses, cigarette holders ...
Among comb makers too, tortoiseshell remains a safe bet. Indeed, in addition to its unique aesthetic recognizable by its amber transparency and its marbling, this material is also characterized by its antistatic qualities! This is what many hairdressers dream of!

 
Fume cigaretteCigarette holder, Oise, first half of the 20th century, white mother-of-pearl and case
At the start of the 20th century, cigarette holders were very popular accessories, especially among women. Indeed it allows to smoke while avoiding the contact of the cigarette with the fingers. The cinema of the 1950s will particularly put them in the spotlight.
This model is in white mother-of-pearl engraved with plant motifs. This is an example of luxury that was also found in ivory or tortoiseshell, sometimes associated with jewelry materials. The arrival of plastics will also allow the realization of these objects in bakelite mainly, allowing to multiply the colors.
The tablet-makers produce many other accessories for smokers, such as cigarette cases, wick lighters or even cigar cutters.

 
Boîte BastardGeorges Bastard (1881-1939), box, Paris, first third of the 20th century, amboyna burl. Signed on the reverse of the artist's monogram
Originally from Andeville, Georges Bastard is undoubtedly one of the greatest tablet-makers of the beginning of the century. He imagines various objects that can be found in the large salons of decorators from the turn of the century. Appreciating the natural aesthetic of mother-of-pearl, horn, ivory or precious woods, he sculpts the materials in their mass, thus revealing the colors that characterize them.
For this box, Georges Bastard chose amboyna burl, one of the most popular precious woods in cabinetmaking, the veins of which form rich knots. The decoration of the box focuses on the lacquered lid, where a wave pattern can be seen reminiscent of the Asian influence. Here, there is no need for protruding decorative patterns, Georges Bastard presents a simple composition which highlights the effects of matter and color.
 


Nécessaire Biennais 11/2 Martin-Guillaume Biennais (1764-1843), travel kit, between 1809 and 1819, mahogany and various woods, ivory, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, silver-gilt (vermeil) , silver and brass, crystal

This box is a true work of art and ingenuity. Its designer was Martin-Guillaume Biennais (1764-1843), a tablet-maker by training, who took advantage of the abolition of corporations at the time of the Revolution to become a goldsmith. This judicious choice allows him to develop his productions.
He became known at the time of the Consulate (1799-1804) by providing in particular the young General Bonaparte who set up his house in Paris. The First Empire (1804-1815) allowed him to become the Emperor's goldsmith and deliver the court but also the foreign courts set up by Napoleon according to his conquests.
This kit corresponds to the need to take all useful everyday items with you. Toiletries, writing supplies, tableware or care items are gathered in a minimum of space. Napoleon's incessant military campaigns and his taste for rich and useful objects thus allowed the development of this type of boxes.

 
Nécessaire Biennais2/2 Martin-Guillaume Biennais (1764-1843), travel kit, between 1809 and 1819, mahogany and various woods, ivory, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, silver-gilt (vermeil), silver and brass, crystal
The search for space optimization is at the heart of tablet-marker’s work. It is indeed necessary to place as many utensils as possible while ensuring that nothing moves during transport. This kit contains four removable trays in which spaces are formed in the shape of the objects. Each utensil therefore has its place.
In the first tray, the rich powder or sponge boxes in silver-gilt chiseled with vegetable friezes as well as cut crystal bottles and an inkwell. This deep tray is placed in the silver-gilt shaving bowl which allowed shaving, in front of a mirror hidden in the lid of the box.
Under the bowl two superimposed trays contain a pen holder, a toothbrush, combs, cases, needle holders, scissors and even a small corkscrew! Finally, the fourth tray was used to store Gold or Silver Francs ... unfortunately no longer there!