Vintage gorgeous mother of pearl scissors

Vintage gorgeous mother of pearl scissors

- Categories : Haberdashery Collectibles

Working with mother-of-pearl is not the work of scissor makers or cutlers, but that of fine cabinet makers. A highly developed activity in Paris until the 13th century, it became afterwards the speciality of the town of Méru. According to tradition, the child- minders of these craftsmen came from this town in the Oise. The fact is that, during the whole 19th century, the most beautiful mother-of-pearl scissor handles were made in Méru and the surrounding towns, Andeville, Lardières, Corbeil-Cerf. The excellent craftsmanship was exported all over the world.

paire de ciseaux nacre grognard et sapeur

These scissors with mother-of-pearl handles show on
both sides a “grognard”, a soldier from Emperor Napoleon’s Imperial Guard,
with his arm in a sling, the other character being a combat engineer (sapper)
with his axe. Both sides of the handles are finely chiselled in a piece of mother-of-pearl
sufficiently large to carve both the characters and eye rings in one piece.

Paire de ciseaux de collection nacre griffons adossés

Admire the craftsmanship of the feathers on this griffin,
as well as the lace work on the outside of the eye rings.
The craftsman would have started with
a life-size drawing with the openings marked in red ink.
Each hole was then pierced with an awl before passing a tiny saw. The engraving is done with small chisels, burins and gouges. Sometimes hours of toil could be lost because
of an unfortunate gesture or lack of material.

Paire de ciseaux de collection en nacre chimères

Trade associations were abolished under the French Revolution. Before this time, allocation of tasks was tightly controlled.
Only certain people had the right to work with such noble materials as whale, tortoiseshell, ivory, bone, horn, and such woods
as “ebony, kingwood, passiflora, rosewood, boxwood and other exotic woods coming from the Indies”, as well as mother-of-pearl and amber.
Until the 17th century, Paris was the centre of fine cabinet making, which later became the speciality of the town of Méru. 
Here a pair of scissors with handles representing a chimera.

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