Designed as a cushion-shaped wooden box, embellished with a Sèvres porcelain plaque in the traditional blue and white depicting a flower head with a rose-cut diamond accent, extending to either side a white enamel line continuing around the box, the push button opening set with a cabochon sapphire, made by Russian silversmith Yahr for Cartier along with two other identical boxes, entered into their ledgers on the 3rd March 1905, unsigned, numbered 715, French assay marks for gold. Accompanied by its original fitted case by Cartier in tooled olive green leather. Dimensions of cigarette case: Length: 9.5cm, width 5.3cm, height 2.5cm. Weight: 39 grams
Note: At the beginning of the 20th Century few reputations rivalled that of the Russian jeweller Carl Farbegé. The firm's richly decorated 'eggs' are world renowned even to this day but their array of bejewelled objects was impressively vast and these little treasures had found their way beyond Russia and into the most illustrious salons in London, Paris and New York. One of the most valuable weapons in Fabergé's arsenal was its mastery of enamelling techniques, specifically guilloché.
In 1904 and 1905 Pierre Cartier travelled to Russia and sought to make connections with the workshops in Moscow and Saint Petersburg in order to embellish their own offerings. In 1904 Cartier ordered no less than 160 items from Yahr, a goldsmith in Moscow who specialised in enamelling. One such item, an enamelled taper holder, is in The Royal Collection having been probably acquired by Kind Edward VII from Cartier in 1910.
Cartier's desire to compete with Fabergé's offerings, and the Faberge pieces themselves that had found their way into Parisian workshops' hands, had incited a few local workshops to quickly verse themselves in the enamelling techniques that had been neglected since the 18th Century. The French never quite reached the same polychromatic spectrum, but did however invent some new colours themselves. With these developments and in part the collaboration/sourcing from Yahr and other Russian specialists, Cartier's enamelled objects from this period found favour in the very salons they had hoped and helped maintain the impeccable reputation Cartier already garnered with its jewellery. Existing examples of this cross over are rare, especially in wood, and to have its original fitted case which cites the original London address of Burlington street is another rather lovely detail.