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Designed to be beautiful as well as functional, objects of vertu are small objects created from precious materials either to be admired simply as works of art or, more often, as luxury items with a practical purpose. The subject includes familiar items such as cigarette cases, scent bottles, snuff boxes, fans, vesta cases, card cases and pincushions plus once fashionable accoutrements such as vinaigrettes, etuis and bonbonnières.
They collectively take their name from the ‘virtuosity’ of their craftsmanship - be it a presentation gold and gem set box from Romanov Russia or a Cartier vanity case made for a 1920s Flapper. Sworders enjoyed huge interest when offering a collection of diminutive porcelain scent bottles made by the Chelsea and St James’s factories c.1750s.
With new interest from around the world, and perfectly sized to appeal to collectors tight on space, this area has recently enjoyed a revival.
A fairly unassuming playbill bought in an Epping charity shop for £5 sold for £4,750 in our auction of Fine Interiors on Wednesday 30 June after it was discovered to be a rare theatrical advertisement printed on the H.M.S Resolute during its Arctic expedition in the 1850s.
As we prepare for our next Fine Interiors sale, to be held 29 & 30 June, we invited Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, a third-generation art dealer specialising in portraiture from the 16th to 20th centuries, to share her personal favourites from the auction. Here, she introduces her highlights within the diverse range of pieces in the upcoming sale.
We were lucky to sit down with Suffolk based Interior Designer and Art & Antiques Dealer - Ambrice Miller - to discuss her five favourite lots in our upcoming Fine Interiors sale which, as expected, expertly demonstrate her eclectic and wide-ranging tastes.