This 18 karat gold box is decorated with enamels and pearls including the four seasons displayed by facetious cupids. It is accompanied by its original complete set of 28 dominos also in 18K gold with the face in royal blue enamel, the dots in fine pearls and the back in scarlet enamel.
The case is signed MB et C. Born in Geneva, Jean-François Bautte enjoyed an exceptional career in the luxury craft. He had begun as an apprentice trained as a case fitter, goldsmith, watchmaker, jeweller and guilloché maker. After creating his first models he joined forces with two businessmen, Moulinié in 1793 and Moynier in 1804.
Their business was named Moulinié, Bautte et Compagnie abbreviated as MB et C in 1804, becoming Moulinié, Bautte et Moynier in 1808. This development of the brand allows the dating of the domino box in this short intermediate period and is consistent with an inscription dated 1808 on the musical mechanism.
The exceptional provenance of this unique box is marked by two old auctions.
In 1834 it is offered in the deceased estate sale of Thomas Weeks who had held in London an important museum of curiosities. It is probable that the box had not met a customer in the Chinese import market in recession since the death of the Qianlong emperor and had joined in London the collections of pieces manufactured by Cox and Maillardet.
The name of its winning bidder at the Weeks sale is Russell. The correlation with the future Duchess of Bedford, who will soon be a confidante of Queen Victoria, is seductive.
The box returns to auction at Christie's in 1974, sold by a direct descendant of Queen Victoria. The domino plays of the young queen with prince consort Albert are documented in her own diaries. It seems highly probable that the Geneva box had belonged to Her Majesty.
SOLD for CHF 415K including premium
Please watch the video shared by Christie's :