This pierced silver scissors case is an exquisite and rare example of an item made most probably in South India and possibly the Dutch East Indies for the European market. It might have been intended either for the Dutch of the English markets. Certainly such cases were made by Dutch and English silversmiths (a Dutch example attributed to circa 1860 comprised lot 435 of Christie’s Amsterdam sale ‘The Mr and Mrs BWG Wttwaall Collection of Fine Dutch Silver’ December 10, 2007.)
Of scissors outline form, the hinged top flips open and is secured with a closing latch.
The case is decorated with fine, pierced chasing and engraving on all sides with bands of inter-lacing flowers – motifs inspired by Mughal and ultimately Ottoman and Persian flower forms.
The work on the case has some similarities with the work undertaken in Batavia for the Dutch East Indies Comnpany (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie – VOC) but more probably it is from South India, perhaps from the Coromandel Coast where the VOC had forts an associated trading posts in Pulicat, Tirukalukundram (Vogelberg) and Sadurangapattinam (Sadras) among others.
The work on the case is very similar to that seen on the fine, pierced silver scabbards of early 18th century South Indian khanjarli daggers. (See lot 151, sold at Sotheby’s London ‘Arts of the Islamic World’, April 18, 2007, for an example.)
The case is in very fine condition. The top retains its original padded lining; the body of the case does not, although this is not immediately obvious. The silverwork on the case is exceptional, and so too is the condition. It is the only such example of a silver scissors case that is clearly of Indian or Indies origin of which we are aware.
van der Pol, B., The Dutch East India Company: A Heritage Tour Through Gujarat, Malabar, Coromandel and Bengal, Paragon Books, 2014.