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Card Case (England)

This is a Card case. It was manufactured by Nathaniel Mills & Sons. It is dated 1845–46 and we acquired it in 1931. Its medium is repoussé and chased moulded sheet silver. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Nathaniel Mills & Sons was known for high-quality silver card cases, snuff boxes, and vinaigrette cases, particularly the castle-top boxes featuring significant buildings and landmarks, such as this one. They were often bought by tourists as souvenirs or someone might purchase a group of them and then travel to all of the monuments featured. The card case held visiting cards, particularly popular with women in the nineteenth century, who, if following gentile culture, would have presented a card upon visiting the home of a friend or acquaintance. Card cases, usually of silver, were popular alongside this custom in Britain in the 1830s. This example depicts the novelist Sir Walter Scott’s memorial in Edinburgh. (Queen Victoria’s interest in the Highlands led to a vogue for Scottish scenes on a variety of accouterments.) Mills used the popular repoussé technique, hammering out the form from the back to create a low-relief scene. Typically, as in this example, a raised scene is displayed on one side while the other contains incised scrollwork so that it can be placed flat on a table.

This object was donated by Eleanor Garnier Hewitt and Sarah Cooper Hewitt. It is credited Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt.

  • Sidewall (France)
  • block-printed on machine-made paper.
  • Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt.
  • 1931-45-59
  • Briefcase
  • nickel-plated leather.
  • Courtesy of Thom Browne.
  • 74.2015.4

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 8.8 x 6 x 0.7 cm (3 7/16 x 2 3/8 x 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Card Case (England); Manufactured by Nathaniel Mills & Sons (United Kingdom); repoussé and chased moulded sheet silver; H x W x D: 8.8 x 6 x 0.7 cm (3 7/16 x 2 3/8 x 1/4 in.); Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt; 1931-48-97

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions Hewitt Sisters Collect and Rococo: The Continuing Curve 1730-2008.

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Card Case (England) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=7 October 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>