This Chinese export silver filigree visiting card case is interesting because it is unusually fine, comes in its original box, and is from a retailer/maker that has barely been heard of.
It is made entirely of silver filigree other than for a small silver plaque to the top of the lid which most probably was intended to be engraved with an owner’s initials. The filigree is unusually fine even by the standards of Chinese export silver. The sides are of fine silver lattice-work. The front and back are of decorated in high relief (in filigree) with panels that include dragons, a pair of fish and what might be a bat, within borders of tight filigree scrollwork.
The case comes in its original case made of stiff paper or board. The outside is covered with woven Chinese silk textile. The interior is lined with an orange-red textile. A paper label glued to the inside of the lid reads, ‘Khechoungming Gold Dealers & Silver Smith from Canton’. To date, we have found no published record of this retailer/maker.
Forbes et al (1975, p. 41-42) comments that the Chinese were well known for their meticulous care in packaging and notes the usefulness of original boxes and other packaging with the maker’s name allowing us to thus identify the maker in the absence of other (scarce) means of establishing this: ‘…boxes are rare, and labelled boxes even rarer…’ says Forbes.
There is no obvious damage to the case. The storage box, being original, is in a more fragile state.
Chan, D.P.L., Chinese Export Silver: The Chan Collection, published in conjunction with the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, 2005.
Forbes, H.A.C. et al, Chinese Export Silver 1785-1885, Museum of the American China Trade, 1975.
Marlowe, A.J., Chinese Export Silver, John Sparks, 1990.