Vanity Case (Nécessaire)

Vanity Case (Nécessaire)

c. 1760

Gold, agate, interior fitted with gold-mounted implements, mirror

Gift of Howard F. Stirn 2009.69

Did you know?

This small box contains gold-mounted writing instruments, including three ink wells, a fountain pen, a clasp knife, and tweezers.

Description

Luxurious personal objects were an essential part of a privileged wardrobe during the 1700s and early 1800s, emphasizing their owner’s refinement and wealth. Jewelry, miniatures, and nécessaires—small expensive sets designed to hold grooming, writing, and sewing tools—were often given as intimate gifts, intended to be seen and admired. Their glittering surfaces, however, disguised a system based on the labor and suffering of enslaved or indentured people, whether in gold and stone mines or shops where these goods were made.

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