A South Staffordshire enamel Bonbonnière in the form of an egg, circa 1770

This enamel bonbonnière is of an unusual size, being approximately that of a large hen’s egg. It is painted with a colourful bouquet, sprays of flowers and scattered sprigs arranged upon a white enamel ground. The hinged metal mounts are fitted with a thumbpiece and the interior is decorated with white enamel.

During the second half of the 18th century, the Midlands, especially areas around South Staffordshire and Birmingham, were centres for the production of attractive metalwork items such as this bonbonnière. It would likely have been used to carry about the person comfits – small confectionary treats such as spices, dried fruits or nuts, coated with sugar candy.

Condition: There is a flat chip to the enamel beside the thumbpiece, and a series of fine cracks, with a few minor losses to the white enamel. The hinged metal mounts are secure, and the bonbonnière opens and closes very neatly. No restoration or overpainting.

Dimensions: Length 6.5 cm

English Enamel Boxes From the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries, Susan Benjamin (Little, Brown, 1978).

English Painted Enamels, Therle and Bernard Hughes (Country Life, 1951).