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Personal accessory case

Personal accessory case

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1766 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pratbernon, John (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Agate, mounted in gold, with bottles mounted in gold, and implements in silver, ivory, mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:

    961:1 to 21-1882

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53a, case 5 []

Object Type
A 'nécessaire' was a luxury object designed to hold a whole range of 'necessary' scent bottles and cosmetic and writing implements for use by a woman of fashion. The contents include five bottles with stoppers, a pencil and an ivory writing tablet, scissors, a mirror, a comb, a brush, toothpicks, a tongue scraper, a bodkin combined with a spoon for ear wax, and a file combined with a pair of tweezers.

Hidden away inside the box, visible only if the fittings are taken out, are the signature and date 'J. Pratbernon / 1766'. He was probably John Pratbernon, described as a gold and silver worker living in Oxford Street in 1774 (Westminster Poll Book). .

Design & Designing
To judge this casket by the most fashionable standards, it comes at the end of the Rococo period, for by 1766 Neo-classical silver and luxury objects were coming into favour. The figure scenes in contemporary dress are in the French manner. Similar figures were modelled as English porcelain figures, and also painted in enamel on copper boxes.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1766 (made)


Pratbernon, John (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Agate, mounted in gold, with bottles mounted in gold, and implements in silver, ivory, mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell


Height: 11.1 cm closed, Width: 9.2 cm, Depth: 7 cm

Object history note

Signed on the inside of the base by J. Pratbernon, probably the box maker

Descriptive line

Case for personal equipment, known as a 'nécessaire'

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This type of elaborate personal accessory kit was inspired by the work of French goldsmiths of the late Rococo period. The use of hardstones was more typical of German work and the panels here may have been made by a German craftsman. The resultant box, however, is a distinctive London type. [27/03/2003]


Metalwork; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

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