Limoges Boxes, Antique and Modern

Antique Pear-Shaped Limoges Box
    The Limoges box is a small, hand-painted box made of Limoges porcelain, manufactured in the city of the same name. Invented in Paris in the early 1700s, they were enormously popular among the French aristocracy as snuffboxes, then they virtually disappeared with the French Revolution - along with the aristocracy. These charming little boxes did not really come back into vogue until the 1970s. While snuff went out of style long ago, in the past decade the Limoges box has reached a new peak of popularity. Indeed, these boxes have not enjoyed such artistic variety since they were first made.

Modern Pear-Shaped Limoges Box    To the modern collector, Limoges boxes are simply decorative objects. Originally, however, they were snuffboxes, and considered an integral part of one's wardrobe, to be carried in one's pocket like a fancy cigarette case. When snuff-taking lost popularity, the boxes lost their original purpose. In the early 20th century, they were commonly used as pillboxes. A few people, no doubt, still use them for such purposes. But by and large, today's Limoges boxes are for aesthetic enjoyment only.

    Though Limoges boxes are the most well known product from Limoges, any thing that can be made out of porcelain has been made from Limoges porcelain. There are plenty of varied products, from vases to ashtrays to dolls and everything else in between. Today there are roughly 20 - 30 porcelain factories in Limoges and most are specialized in certain types of porcelain such as dinnerware, giftware, and industrial porcelain.