A sterling silver and tortoiseshell table mirror 19th century, Continental, with original bevelled glass decorated with silver cupid mounts (tested as sterling) on scrolling feet, tortoiseshell and wood frame. 5 x 41 cm (mirror frame)
tortoiseshell. Tortoiseshell is a translucent material that comes from the horny carapace of a certain types of turtles, including the hawksbill turtle. It is often therefore mounted on a colour underground - often red - or inlaid with gold or silver thread, as seen in Boulle furniture.
The texture and colour nuances of the material are extremely important. Heated tortoiseshell can easily be formed into various shapes. Like other natural materials, tortoiseshell becomes more beautiful with use. In a time before plastic, tortoiseshell was widely used for small objects such as combs and powder compacts.
In 1973, the trade of tortoiseshell worldwide was banned under CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Prior to importing or exporting items containing tortoiseshell a CITES permit must be obtained. Tortoiseshell items cannot be traded on Ebay.
"Faux tortoiseshell", another case of man initiating nature, is made from old-style plastics such as celluloid and cellulos and is coloured with red, yellow and brown spots to imitate the genuine article. It is commonly used in glasses frames, musical instruments and costume jewellery.
bevel / chamfer. An edge that is not at right angles to the nearest edge, but slopes at another angle, sometimes 45 degrees, but can be more or less. A bevel or chamfer is used in furniture making to soften the easily damaged sharp surface that would be created by a right angle join. In mirrors and glass, a less-angled bevel is used to accentuate the lines of the surrounding frame.
The buyers premium is an additional percentage charge on the hammer price of the item, imposed by the auction house to cover administrative costs. The buyers premium percentage varies between auction houses, with a range of 12.5% to 22%.