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Toothpick case

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled, champlevé, engraved gold, set with diamonds, mirror and plaited hair under glass

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.356:1, 2-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 5, shelf 11 []

Robert Henley Ongley, first Baron Ongley (c.1720-1785) sat as the Whig member of Parliament for Bedford. The inscription on this case commemorates his death; however, the fact that it also bears his arms and monogram would suggest that it was originally his possession, and only inscribed following his death.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

An oval, jeweled, enameled gold toothpick case, the cover and base painted in translucent blue over an engine-turned ground edged by opaque white with gold flowers and translucent blue within gold borders. The cover is set in diamonds with the initial ‘O’ beneath a baron’s coronet bordered by laurel and within an oval frame; the base is set with plaited hair under glass within an oval medallion. The walls have champlevé enamel foliage around white “pearls.” There is a diamond thumbpiece. The interior of the lid is set with a mirror; the interior of the base is engraved with a coat-of-arms and a motto, ‘MIHI CURA FUTURI.’

Place of Origin

London (made)


1780 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Enamelled, champlevé, engraved gold, set with diamonds, mirror and plaited hair under glass

Marks and inscriptions

Arms and monogram 'O' for Robert Henley, first Baron Ongley (ca. 1720-85)

Engraved on the interior of the base

'The Right Hon.ble Robert Henley Lord Ongley, Ob. Oct 23, 1785 at 64'
Engraved on the bezel


Length: 9.6 cm, Width: 3.4 cm, Height: 1.3 cm, :

Object history note

Provenance: A la Vieille Russie, New York.

Descriptive line

Enamelled, champlevé, engraved gold, set with diamonds, mirror and plaited hair under glass, London, ca.1780

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, Vol. I. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1991, cat. no. 108, pp. 314-15. ISBN.0875871623
Habsburg-Lothringen, Géza von. Gold boxes from the collection of Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert. R. & A. Gilbert, 1983, 125 p., ill. Cat. no. 22, p. 55. ISBN.0961039809.

Labels and date

11. Toothpick case
About 1780

London, England
Engine-turned and enamelled gold set with diamonds, a panel of plaited hair under glass on the base
Engraved with memorial for Robert Henley, 1st Baron Ongley (about 1720–85)
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.356:1-2008 [16/11/2016]


Enamel; Gold; Diamonds; Mirror; Glass; Hair; Material


Enamelling; Champleve; Engraving; Setting; Technique


Containers; Metalwork; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

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