Unique travel kit for a man of style

Duke of Leinster’s grooming essentials in New York auction

Sat, Apr 13, 2013, 07:00

A little masterpiece of early 19th century design will go under the hammer in New York next week when Sotheby’s offers a most unusual item – a nécessaire , a miniature case for carrying a grooming kit and other travel essentials. It was made for the Duke of Leinster.

The exquisite object of Irish silver and rosewood has the retailer’s mark of Fox of Dublin, circa 1815.

The wooden case, which is about 20 cm high, is banded in pierced silver and engraved with the ducal crest, coronet and motto. It opens at both the top and base with a central locking system and, remarkably, the contents are intact. The quantity and variety of objects in such a compact container is quite ingenious and includes all the accoutrements considered necessary to a travelling gentleman.

They include: a pair of tortoiseshell razors, a shaving brush, silver-mounted scissors, tweezers, a bodkin, a toothpick, an oblong mirror with folding handle, a button hook, a button loop, a file, a double-bladed knife with folding nail file and blade, a compass, a folding ivory rule, a corkscrew, a pencil holder and a pen case with ink compartment. And there’s more! A pair of nesting oval beakers and four oval numbered boxes.

Sotheby’s has assigned this unique and delightful item – the ultimate male accessory – a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-$20,000 (€7,600-€15,300) ahead of the auction in Manhattan next Tuesday.

Traditionally the Duke of Leinster was the senior peer in Ireland and lived at Carton House in Co Kildare and Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin. The title was, and still is, held by a member of the FitzGerald family, who now live in England.

As with many aristocratic clans, the family silver was sold off long ago. But items do occasionally re-surface at auction. Last year, in London, Christie’s sold the Leinster dinner service, described as “the grandest and the most complete surviving aristocratic service”, for £1.7 million (€2.1 million).

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