This is an absolutely fabulous antique French Ormolu and Sèvres Porcelain desktop correspondence casket, circa 1870 in date. Of rectangular form, the front top and sides feature beautiful parcel gilt heightened and jeweled Sèvres Porcelain panels on bleu celeste ground. The large top panel depicting a period costumed mother and child in a beautiful garden with a gilt and red jeweled border, and the other panels with delightful floral motifs with gilt borders. The top opens to reveal a sumptuous sky blue silk lined interior with various divisions. The rear of the casket is of gilded ormolu with beautiful engraved floral decoration, and the casket is raised on stunning dragon's paw scroll feet. Complete with original working lock and key. This item is of superb quality is incredibly rare and will instantly enhance any desktop. Condition: In really excellent condition, the porcelain and ormolu having been cleaned in our workshops. With no chips, cracks or signs of repair, please see photos for confirmation. Dimensions in cm: Height 20 x width 29 x depth 19 Dimensions in inches: Height 7.9 x width 11.4 x depth 7.5 Sèvres Porcelain traces its roots in France to early craftsmen who had small manufacturing operations in such places as Lille, Rouen. St. Cloud, and most notably Chantilly. It is from Chantilly that a cadre of workers migrated to the Chateau de Vincennes near Paris to form a larger porcelain manufactory in 1738. French King Louis XV, perhaps inspired by his rumored relationship with mistress Madame de Pompadour, took an intense interest in porcelain and moved the operation in 1756 to even larger quarters in the Paris suburb of Sevres. Sèvres was also conveniently near the home of Madame de Pompadour and the King's own Palace at Versailles. From the outset the king's clear aim was to produce Sèvres Porcelain that surpassed the established Saxony works of Meissen and Dresden. Though the French lacked an ample supply of kaolin, a required ingredient for hard-paste porcelain (pate dure), their soft-paste porcelain (pate tendre) was fired at a lower temperature and was thus compatible with a wider variety of colors and glazes that in many cases were also richer and more vivid. Unglazed white Sèvres Porcelain "biscuit" figurines were also a great success. However, soft-paste Sèvres Porcelain was more easily broken. Therefore, early pieces of Sèvres Porcelain that remain intact have become rare indeed. The Sèvres Porcelain manufactory always seemed to be in dire financial straits despite the incredibly fine works it produced. In fact, the king's insistence that only the finest items be created may have contributed to the difficulties. Only a limited number of European nobility could afford the extravagant prices demanded for such works. King Louis XV and eventually his heir, the ill-fated Louis XVI, were obliged to invest heavily in the enterprise. Ultimately, the Sèvres Porcelain Factory produced items under the name of "Royal" and thus the well-known Sèvres mark was born. King Louis XV even mandated laws that severely restricted other porcelain production in France so as to retain a near monopoly for his Sèvres Porcelain. The king even willingly became chief salesman for the finest of his products, hosting an annual New Year's Day showing for French nobility in his private quarters at Versailles. He eagerly circulated among potential buyers, pitching the merits of ownership and policing the occasional light-fingered guest. Sèvres Porcelain may have indeed given the makers of Meissen and Dresden a run for their money by the end of the 18th century but for the French Revolution. By 1800, the Sèvres Porcelain Works were practically out of business due to the economic devastation of the new French Republic. About the time when Napoleon Bonaparte named himself Emperor of France (1804), a new director was named for the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory. Alexandre Brongniart, highly educated in many fields, resurrected Sèvres Porcelain. Soft-paste porcelain was eliminated altogether thanks to the earlier discovery of kaolin near Limoges. For four decades until his death, Brongniart presided over monumental progress for Sèvres Porcelain, catering not only to Napoleon himself, but at last to include the more financially profitable mid-priced market in the emerging middle class. Ormolu, (from French 'or moulu', signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze. The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold-colored veneer known as 'gilt bronze'. The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object. After circa 1830 because legislation had outlawed the use of mercury other techniques were used instead. Electroplating is the most common modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt.