Zwei Schuhschnallen in Lederetui

Shoe buckles in a leather case

Paris, mid 18th century
Silver, strass, height 4.5 cm x width 5 cm
morocco case length 11 cm, breadth 5.8 cm, depth 2.5 cm
Inv. 1961.213.

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These shoe buckles, which were once owned by a wealthy Basle family, are made of cast silver; the fasteners are gilt. The buckles are studded with imitation diamonds, which did not, however, have cheap associations; they are made of strass, a special form of brilliant lead crystal with a high constituent of quartz. This paste is now believed to have been the invention of the Strasbourg chemist and jeweller Georges Frédéric Stras (1710-1773); it is no longer to be associated with the Viennese jeweller Strasser. Paris was a center of production for such imitation gemstones; in 1767 around 300 people are documented as involved in the processing of 'pierres de Stras'. The strass stones were cut like gemstones and to enhance their brilliance facetted on the rear and set into silver foil cuffs. The careful presentation of these buckles in a morocco case identifies them as prized pieces of jewellery.

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