Limoges Porcelain Boxes are a type of small hinged porcelain trinket box produced by Limoges porcelain factories, near the city of Limoges located about 250 miles southwest from Paris in the Haute-Vienne Department of France. Made of a hard-paste porcelain called Kaolin found in the region, Limoges porcelain combines a very fine, pure, white clay (kaolin) which consists of silicon oxide and aluminum oxide, with a low content of iron oxide and other metallic oxides with pulverized feldspar and quartz. As a finished product, this type of Porcelain is very translucent and consistently smooth in texture and often rings when it is struck.
Limoges porcelain boxes were first created in the mid-18th century after Jacques Turgot, Finance Minister of King Louis XVI, gave a Royal edict to the city of Limoges, France the exclusive right to produce Royal Limoges porcelain for the King of France. The first Limoges trinket boxes were long, narrow containers created to hold expensive needles. From there, other shapes of Limoges porcelain boxes evolved. The earliest were those that held thimbles and embroidery scissors followed by round, flat Limoges boxes used as powder boxes, and/or snuff boxes. Under Louis XIV these small boxes were also used to hold a lock of a lady’s hair or a small poem.
Each box was hand painted and included an element of delightful whimsy that enchanted everyone including Madame de Pompadour who was one of the first collectors at the Court. Louis XVI became so enamored with these trinkets that he purchased the first factory which manufactured the hard-paste porcelain just before the revolution, in 1784. After the French Revolution, private factories producing the white porcelain began to emerge and today, there are a number of factories producing the famous Limoges Porcelain.
According to their website and press release, the house of Rochard Limoges produces boxes with a certificate of authenticity and the hand-painted porcelain boxes are marked and stamped “Peint Main, Limoges France“. Each piece also comes in a signature green and gold gift box. It further states that the Limoges Porcelain hinged Boxes are handcrafted from start to finish in France from the heart of the city of Limoges by master French artists using traditional techniques introduced in the 17th century.
There is a multitude of designs from classic Lilly of the Valley to the more whimsical designs such as Two Peas in a Pod, the Eiffel Tower and there’s even a Texas flag ( a clin d’oeil to Rochard Limoges headquarters located in Houston Texas! )
“Limoges Porcelain boxes are one of the hot collectibles of the new millennium!” says Faye Strumpf the author of Limoges Boxes: A Complete Guide- Contains More Than 400 Full-Color Photos, a Value Guide, and Manufacturers’ Marks Identification Guide. Limoges Boxes honor the French tradition worldwide, are collectibles that will last a lifetime, and make magnificent French gifts for all occasions.
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