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  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Picque, inlaid tortoiseshell, gold

  • Credit Line:

    Griffin Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Silver, Room 69, The Whiteley Galleries, case 20

Small cases like this were used in the home to store bodkins (small pointed instruments for piercing holes in cloth) and other sewing equipment. This one was made using the intricate technique of piqué which was perfected in Paris in the 18th century. It required skilled craftsmen to inlay turtle shell (now known as tortoiseshell) with tiny gold pins and strips of gold to create delicate decorative patterns.

Physical description

Picque, inlaid tortoise-shell. Of oval section with a hinged cover with press button catch in front. It is surmounted by a gilt cap chased with a trophy of arms framed in strapwork and foliage. The pique decoration consists of scrollwork and foliage.

Place of Origin

France (made)


18th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Picque, inlaid tortoiseshell, gold


Length: 3.375 in, Width: 0.875 in

Descriptive line

Bodkin case, tortoiseshell, gold, French, 18th century

Labels and date

Silver Gallery:
Cases such as these were used to store bodkins and other sewing equipment. The example on the right is decorated with very fine piqué point decoration and engraved grooves which do not appear to have contained inlaid wires. [26/11/2002]


Tortoiseshell; Gold


Metalwork; Containers; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

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