Monday, 23 March 2015

Mystery of the Silver Container

Yesterday, Mum and I headed into town to check out a small exhibition of antique Georg Jensen pieces. We'd been exceedingly fortunate to even hear about it though a jewellery designer friend who happens to work at Georg Jensen, because it was not advertised anywhere.

I'm not really into silver jewellery but household silver is a different matter. While nowadays that may refer predominantly to the cutlery, back then it referred to anything and everything that could sit on the breakfast table dining table or was associated with smoking. In addition is the set that would have adorned the dressing table, from silver mounted brushes and combs, hand mirrors, powder jars, small trays for the powder puff and rouge puff to rest on. We did surmise the purpose of the small trays as they were situated in proximity to the dressing table set and were not flat enough to have a cruet set or inkwell resting on them.

On the sideboard sat a kettle on its own little Bunsen..

...while on the table sat the chocolate pot.  This is a beautiful silver jug with ebony handle. In the centre of the lid is a hole through which a long wooden chocolate whisk sits. These whisks are specific to the making of hot chocolate with a shape more in keeping with the Mexican Chocolate whisk than with the one you would normally find in the kitchen.

In the smoking room was a set of ashtrays and tobacco jar re-labelled as a 'cookie jar', though the piece would have looked far more beautiful on the mantle-piece than anywhere near the kitchen. 

There were some intriguing pieces amongst the collection, where the purpose seemed a little unclear like this piece where the description the staff had was simply 'bowl'. Later investigation indicates that though listed as a separate design, this is actually exactly the same as the sugar bowl just without the lid. Viewing it in person, I would have thought the sugar bowl would have an edge that curled in. As a result I hypothesised that it might instead be a finger bowl.

The most intriguing piece though was the far left of the three 'lipstick' holders. 

The second and third ones clearly are lipstick holders as they have the appropriate mechanism within. However the first piece is different. If it were a lipstick holder like the others, it would have the mechanism, and look like this:

Instead, it looks like this:

Mum's suggestion was that it held solid perfume. However having undertaken a little research this seems a little unlikely. Solid perfume is usually presented having been set into a little pillbox type container. This container was too long, too clean and didn't possess a strong perfume smell, which leads me to believe that it did not hold perfume.

Trawling though Google images I did stumble upon a small clutch for sale, which I believe answers the question.

The bag was described as coming with a lipstick holder and a perfume holder.


Though the metal cases both look appropriate, and one would have to be the lipstick case mentioned, there are two factors that lead me to think it is instead the perfume holder, with the glass bottle either missing or not provided. 

If you go back to the original image, this container is larger than the lipstick holders. This difference in size between the lipstick holder and the perfume holder also looks to be in keeping with the small clutch set.

Secondly, a lipstick holder with the same diamond pattern actually exists. While it is possible that there would be two different types of lipstick holders with the same design, I think it far more probable that it is a perfume holder, enabling women to purchase a matching set.

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