What is a cigarette case?

First introduced in the late Victorian period, cigarette cases were for keeping one's cigarettes safe from loss or damage. At this time, smoking was very much limited to men, an activity from which women were excluded. Cases were engraved or decorated in enamel with ‘masculine’ subjects of erotic female nudes, sports or animals. 
These cases are usually silver found in the Silver Auction, however, in the next Asian Works of Art Auction on 19 July you can find an extraordinary example from Iran (lot 1034).  The case is intricately designed with an engraving of a stunning tenfold rosette pattern to both sides and at just over 12cm long, the impressive surface is incredibly detailed with elaborate swirls and foliage.  The engraving, which appears hand designed, catches the light beautifully as well as adding texture to the item.
Written by Hannah Hughes

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