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Object Timeline

-0001

1931

  • We acquired this object.

2010

2013

2014

2018

  • You found it!

Etui With Writing And Grooming Instruments (England), 1770–80

This is a Etui with writing and grooming instruments. It is dated 1770–80 and we acquired it in 1931. Its medium is enamel on copper, gilt copper, steel, ivory, cut wood. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This etui, or case, also called a nécessaire, holds scissors, a needle case, thread, penknife, tweezers, pencil, and ivory tablet, all “necessary” to 18th-century women of social status. The same artisan probably also made cutlery, but did not enamel the case. While some objects suggest delicate sewing and grooming, the small pencil and ivory tablet could have served both for domestic lists and as a reusable dance card.
Feminine scrolls and images of Venus and Cupid, as well as of Diana the huntress and a dog, a symbol of faithfulness, imply that this enameled copper case was likely a gift from husband to wife. The materials and techniques suggest it was a product aimed at merchant classes newly rich from the industrial revolution, centered in the middle of England, where the case was made. It was more affordable than the high-style gold work done in London or crafted by foreign goldsmiths.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled One Woman’s Fancy is another’s Necessaire..

This object was bequest of Sarah Cooper Hewitt. It is credited Bequest of Sarah Cooper Hewitt.

Our curators have highlighted 7 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 10 x 4.3 x 2 cm (3 15/16 x 1 11/16 x 13/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Etui With Writing And Grooming Instruments (England), 1770–80; enamel on copper, gilt copper, steel, ivory, cut wood; H x W x D: 10 x 4.3 x 2 cm (3 15/16 x 1 11/16 x 13/16 in.); Bequest of Sarah Cooper Hewitt; 1931-6-105-a/h

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18325257/ |title=Etui With Writing And Grooming Instruments (England), 1770–80 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 September 2018 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>