A Bilston enamel Patch Box, circa 1780
The top of this oval patch box is painted in colourful enamels with a bird on a nest containing a clutch of blue eggs. This charming scene is surrounded by a gilt line and a pink and black enamel border incorporating raised white enamel ‘jewels’. The sides and base of the box are decorated with pink enamel, and the hinged cover contains the original glass with traces of its silvered mirror. The interior is decorated with white enamel.
Exquisite ‘toys’ such as this would have been treasured gifts and tokens of esteem between lovers.
During the second half of the 18th century, the Midlands, especially areas around South Staffordshire and Birmingham, were centres for the production of small, metalwork items such as this patch box.
Condition: No chips, restoration or overpainting, just typical faint cracks to the enamel. The silvered mirror has mostly perished, although the original glass remains intact.
Dimensions: Width 4.5 cm (across the base); Height (to top of domed cover) 2 cm
English Painted Enamels, Therle and Bernard Hughes (Country Life, 1951).
Bilston Enamels of the 18th Century, Tom Cope (Black Country Society, 1980).
English Enamel Boxes, Susan Benjamin (Macdonald Orbis, 1988).