Portable Powder Box

This small wooden sphere, c1770, is about the size of a ping-pong ball. Made of polished walnut, it has a small mother-of-pearl disk inlaid on the top. It is bisected in the middle, as it is two pieces screwed together. When unscrewed, it reveals a miniature powder puff.

Powder Box, Closed

The puff is made of marabou, attached to purple velvet which surrounds a tiny ivory handle. There are still remnants of powder at the bottom of the box.

Powder Box, Open

This type of powder puff is seen in many paintings of the 18th century, especially French paintings, where a woman is seated at her dressing table. The powder puffs are, of course, much larger, but they are constructed just as this one is, with marabou attached to an ivory handle.

I suspect this little powder box was part of a traveling set, ie a cosmetic case. Or it could have been a singular item carried in a pocket for a quick touch-up. Face powder at this time generally had a talc base, but with the addition of ingredients such as ground pearl, rice powder, arrowroot powder, and fragrance.


Related Regency World Articles: