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Cigarette case

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1903 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Albert Barker Ltd (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver; engraving; enamelling

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Herbert Seligmann

  • Museum number:

    T.111:1, 2-1998

  • Gallery location:

    Silver, Room 68, The Whiteley Galleries, case 7, shelf 1 []

An alternative to pipe- and cigar-smoking, cigarettes appeared at the end of the nineteenth century and retailers were swift to produce a range of accessories tailored especially for them. As the dimensions of this case show, cigarettes at the turn of the century were smaller than the king-size ones of today. Rueff's cigarette case, designed as a stamped addressed envelope, may have formed a set with a match safe --- a case for matches often made to resemble miniature visiting cards or envelopes during this period.
Léon Rueff was head of the Swiss Bank in London during and after the First World War (1914-18). The address on the case perhaps refers to Rueff's office or London club, as The Times newspaper records home addresses for him in Chelsea and Bayswater. Léon Rueff died suddenly, aged 80, in September 1942, the year after his son Marcus was killed fighting in North Africa during the Second World War. Mrs Herbert Seligmann (Lise Ruess) gave the cigarette case to the Museum in 1997 'in remembrance of my aunt and uncle Suze and Léon Rueff whose only son died an Officer of the Hamlet Rifles in Libya in 1941'.

Physical description

Rectangular silver case engraved and enamelled on the front and back to resemble a stamped addressed envelope. Gilded button on the side which presses to release the catch that opens the case. Inside, a strip of elastic stretched across the case (to hold in cigarettes).

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1903 (made)

Artist/maker

Albert Barker Ltd (made)

Materials and Techniques

Silver; engraving; enamelling

Marks and inscriptions

Léon Rueff Esqu. / 16 St James's Place / London W.
Engraved in a cursive hand and filled with black enamel on the front of the envelope.

London W. / Dec 23 / 9 pm / 1903
Text engraved and enamelled beside the enamelled stamp, to resemble an imitation postmark.

London W. / 6 am / Dec 24 / 54
Engraved on the back of the case to resemble an imitation postmark.

LKP
Initials, engraved in cursive script and enclosed in a circle, to resemble a seal on the flap of the envelope.

Mark 'AB' in a rectangular punch for the firm of Albert Barker Ltd; London town mark of leopard's head; lion passant for London assay office mark; date letter 'h' for 1903-04.
Marks on the inner rim of the case.

Dimensions

Length: 9.3 cm, Width: 8 cm, Depth: 1 cm, Weight: 159.5 g

Object history note

Léon Rueff, a British national, owned the cigarette case shortly after becoming a delegate-member of the board of the Swiss Bank in London, where he rose to become manager by the start of the First World War in 1914. The address on the cigarette case probably refers to his home residence (now the site of the Stafford Hotel). Later references to him and his family in The Times record that he lived in Chelsea and Bayswater. His Dutch wife, Suze, had learned piano with Arthur Rubenstein, and between the wars their house in Palace Court, Bayswater was a favourite meeting-place for the great figures in the world of music (Times, 1961). Léon Rueff died 'suddenly', aged 80, on 18th September, 1942; his son, Marcus, had been killed in action in North Africa the previous year on April 7th or 8th, 1941 (Times, 1942).
Lise Ruess (Mrs Herbert Seligmann: see New York Times, 1984) gave the cigarette case to the Museum in 1997 'in remembrance of my aunt and uncle Suze and Léon Rueff whose only son died an Officer of the Hamlet Rifles in Libya in 1941' (letter dated 13.11.1997, R.F. 1997/1184). Mrs Seligmann's gift also comprised an evening bag and a manicure case (Museum nos T.112 and 113-1998).
Albert Barker was a London-based silversmith and retailer who in 1887 is recorded as 'a manufacturer, inventor and patentee of travelling dressing bags, gold and silver work, gem jewellery, writing cases, electroplated goods, dressing cases, art stationery, fine cutlery, fancy goods of finest English and foreign manufacture'. In 1892 he held a special warrant of appointment to the Prince and Princess of Wales. At the time the cigarette case was made, his retail business was established in 5 New Bond Street. Barker continued to trade until around 1915, when the business passed to successors Baxter and Shuttleworth. See Culme (1987), p.27.

Historical significance: An alternative to pipe- and cigar-smoking, cigarettes appeared at the end of the nineteenth century and retailers were swift to produce a range of accessories tailored especially for them. As the dimensions of this case show, cigarettes at the turn of the century were smaller than the king-size ones of today. Rueff's cigarette case, designed as a stamped addressed envelope, may have formed a set with a match safe --- a case for matches often made to resemble miniature visiting cards or envelopes during this period (Helliwell, 1988, pp.139-42).

Descriptive line

Cigarette box decorated with an engraved London address, silver & enamel, London, Britain, 1903.

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

Culme, John. The directory of gold and silversmiths, jewellers and allied traders 1838-1914 (from the London Assay Office registers, vol. I: The Biographies. 2 vols. Woodbridge : Antique Collectors' Club, 1987. ISBN: 0907462464
Helliwell, Stephen. Collecting small silverware. Oxford : Phaidon Christie's, 1988. ISBN: 0714880477.
The Times, Digital Archive: Friday July 08, 1927, p. 5; Friday May 17th, 1940; Tuesday September 22, 1942 and Monday September 11, 1961
Obituary for Herbert J. Seligmann. The New York Times, 7 March, 1984.

Materials

Silver; Enamel; Gold; Elastic

Categories

Images Online; Containers; Accessories; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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