Outstanding Silver Gilt Dressing Case By Ortner & Houle, 1862-1876
Makers to the Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales & The Royal Family Silver & Gold by Tween & Purnell 1866
This fabulous vanity box belonged to “Elizabeth Lucy Cuffe” who was the “Countess of Desart” & Lady of the Bedchamber to "Queen Victoria"
The Silver Gilt Vanity box made by Betjemann veneered in Coromandel, has brass edging, with the inside of the lid being lined with dark green velvet with embroidered entwined countess coronet and initials, behind this is a removable gilded free standing mirror. Behind the mirror is a dark green leather letter-case lined with silk. The interior back edge has a signed brass plaque which reads;
"Ortner and Houle, 3st. James St. S. W. London".
When opened it reveals an assortment of fifteen various shaped glass travelling containers with silver gilt lids housed in dark green velvet. All the containers are in good condition . The glass has a star cut base and has stunning silver gilt lids with applied solid gold Countess' coronet and initials by Tween and Purnell 1866 .
The front folds down to reveal a wonderful accoutrements tool pad which holds eighteen tools including scissors, needle-case, corkscrew and unusually a pair of rulers one being mother of pearl and the other of sterling silver. With the front folded down the main sections can swing out by 90-degrees.
Once this is done removing the oblong glass containers and pressing the middle of the velvet compartments will reveal hidden jewellery drawers on either side. Underneath is a hand mirror, glove stretcher and shoe horn.
There is also a drawer just above the front tool pad which contains various Ivory clothes brushes with gold coronet & initials replicating the Silver Gilt lids and a letter opener. This is released by pressing the engraved name plate on the interior back edge.
This fabulous box belonged to Elizabeth Lucy Cuffe, Countess of Desart
Born Lady Elizabeth Lucy Campbell (1822-1898), she became Countess of Desart through marriage to John Otway O'Connor Cuffe, 3rd Earl of Desart.
Lady Elizabeth was the third daughter of the Earl of Cawdor, and grand-daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Bath.
She grew up with her siblings at Stackpole Court in Pembrokeshire. Her father was the bearer of the Queen's Ivory Rod at the coronation of King William IV and Queen Adelaide in September 1831. Her many relatives included the Dukes of Abercorn, Bedford, Bridgewater, Buccleuch, Devonshire and Rutland, the marquess of Bath, the Earls of Cawdor, Carlisle, Ellesmere, Galloway and Harewood, and the Viscounts Torrington and Weymouth.
Elizabeth was considered by many to be a lady of exceptional beauty. She is said to have caught the eye of Napoleon III when he met her at a society soiree during his residence at Leamington Spa in 1838. It is said that a fellow guest asked him if he liked the house at which the soiree was being held, to which he replied “I like it very much but..."(turning to the countess)"... the pretty Desart even more.”
Elizabeth married the 3rd Earl of Desart on June 28, 1842. Their wedding at St George's Church in Hanover Square was no doubt attended by many of Elizabeth's high society relatives, as well as the Earl's close acquaintances the Marquesses of Sligo and Waterford, the Earls Howe and Clanricarde, and Viscount Strangford. It was said that Benjamin Disraeli, himself a guest at the wedding, described the couple as "the two most beautiful people I ever saw". Their wedding day was talk of the town as Elizabeth's brother Viscount Emlyn also married on this day. Viscount Emlyn was a former childhood sweetheart of Queen Victoria who happened to marry one of the Queen's Maids of Honour, Sarah Cavendish.
In 1845 the Countess was invited to become Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria in 1845, a role she enjoyed until 1864.
It is highly possible that this box was commissioned by the Queen as a parting gift for Elizabeth's services or possibly as a 40th birthday present.
- Wood, Glass, Silver, Brass, Velvet
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