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2606 Granby Street
Norfolk, VA 23517

Small footed glass jewelry box with image of Hôtel des Invalides, c.1880s


Small glass-sided jewelry box with handpainted image of Hôtel des Invalides in Paris on the glass lid. Rounded cube shape with beveled glass, footed and held in place with cast, gold-washed brass. Red cushion inside. A souvenir box from the 1880s, most likely from a World's Fair.

Let's get clear about the romantic association of the glorious raiding of the Bastille with the real start of the French Revolution. Was the Bastille stormed with ideas? No. Arms? Yes. Arms which were stolen from the Hôtel des Invalides, the building seen on this box. The weapons taken from here, across the River Seine, freed those seven prisoners. The prisoners included a handful of counterfeiters, a couple of oversexed aristocrats, and one Tavernier - another aristocrat who had been placed in the Bastille by his beleaguered family because of a loose connection to a possible plot against the King in the 1740s. Not so romantic, eh?

From the 1670s until today, the Hôtel des Invalides has served as a hospital and retirement home for veterans. It is also home to military offices, museums, and, since 1840, Napoleon's tomb, which sits under the grand golden dome. In 1889 World's Fair, many of the pavilions were erected on the adjacent Esplanade des Invalides. Perhaps this painted trinket box is a souvenir from then?

In good condition with some expected wear to the metal and slight bending to the thin feet. Stands sturdily upright, and hinge and clasp work well. Glass has a few minor scratches. The red cushion is a newer addition and not the original. Measures 2 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches, and weighs 5.25 oz.


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