Five American Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Matchsafes
Comprising one decorated with a profile of a smoking woman in relief, height 2 1/4 inches (6 cm); one with holly and berries, height 2 3/4 inches (7 cm); one with Neptune and fish amongst waves in relief, height 2 3/4 inches (7 cm); another with a profile of a woman in high relief, height 2 1/2 inches (6.4 cm); and the last shaped rectangular with scroll border, height 2 1/2 inches (6.5 cm), total approximately 88.4 dwt.
While we would not be shocked today, the image of a smoking woman would have been very risque in turn of the century America. Smoking was almost exclusively a recreation for men and it was not considered an appropriate habit for women. An opera of 1906 by Ermanno Wof-Ferrari, Il segreto di Susanna, or Susanna's Secret tells the tale of Susanna who is hiding a secret from her husband. He comes home to find the parlour smelling of smoke and assumes the worst - that Susanna has taken a lover which she denies vehemently. In fact Susanna's secret is that she has taken up smoking, an act and secret she cannot share with her non-smoking spouse. It was not until after the First World War and the growing liberation of woman in society that smoking and smoking accessories were taken up by greater numbers of women.
The Joseph and Miriam Poser Collection
C Estate of Miriam S. Poser
Additional Notes & Condition Report
Holly and berriies - Whiting Mfg. Co. - clearly hallmarked; good condition overall; good detail to decoration; hinge good and tight
Neptune - good condition overall; marked only sterling; hinge good and tight; good detail to decoration; no monograms, but no sign of erasure
Woman in profile - marked only sterling; good condition overall; good detail to decoration; hinge good and tight; small dents to bottom corners; reverse with script monogram "VFH"
Scrolls - marked only sterling; good condition overall; the cover slightly loose; no monogram nor erasure
Any condition statement is given as a courtesy to a client, is an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact and Doyle New York shall have no responsibility for any error or omission. Please contact the specialist department to request further information or additional images that may be available.
No condition report? Click here to request one.