Collection info Patch boxes



Resembling a snuffbox but mostly smaller in size, the patch box was used to contain ‘patches’ (false beauty marks/ spots) which were bits of gummed taffeta or other fabric used to emphasize the beauty of whiteness of the skin or draw attention to particular facial features. These dainty boxes with mirrors inside perfectly captured the growing fashion for beauty products such as rouge and patches in the Eighteenth Century. They became particularly popular both in the court of Louis XV and in England after the area of South Staffordshire became the centre of painted enamel box making, developing techniques to facilitate much larger productions to satisfy their growing demand.

A gift of a patch box could be a costly expression of admiration and sentiment since as well as being made from copper or brass, they were also often made from gold and sometimes encrusted with jewels, but even where precious stones were not used, the pièce de resistance was always the decorative enamelled lids, often depicting amorous scenes.

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