An oval box with concave sides, plain brass mount and a lid hinged at the narrow end. Enamel on metal and painted on the lid over a white ground with a reversible head of a man and woman in profile, joined end to end at the mouth; inscriptions in arcscarved over the tops of the heads. Body decorated with a running scrollwork pattern in blue, yellow and black round the sides. Both figures wear hats, the woman wears a white cap tied with blue ribbon, the man wears a tall black hat.
Gallery text panel Harold Raby Collection Harold Raby was charmed by English enamels finding them 'dainty and pretty, quaint and curious'. As a boy, he inherited a tiny, battered enamel box which inspired him to collect over 400 more items during the first half of the 20th century. These enamels were mainly made in Staffordshire and were fashionable from about 1750 to 1820. For Raby, they evoked a lost age of elegance and gave an insight into outmoded social customs. A local bank manager, Raby only had moderate means but he tried to buy examples of every type of object produced by the short-lived English enamel industry. He acquired boxes for face patches, snuff and tobacco, candlesticks, perfume bottles, tea caddies....... He even risked air raids to attend sales in London. Eventually, boxes outnumbered every other item and gave his collection an obsessive quality.
object: 2.6cm x 3.8cm
Place of creation
Harold Raby bequest
© Manchester Art Gallery