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Indian; Gujarat

Casket c.1600

RCIN 100009

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was presented with this casket when she launched the liner Queen Elizabeth at Clydebank in 1938. For over three hundred years before that it had been kept in the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vaults) in Dresden, the celebrated treasury assembled by the electors of Saxony. The casket was made in Gujarat, western India, specifically for export to Europe, via Portuguese traders. Mother-of-pearl was one of the most highly prized natural rarities in Renaissance Europe; the value placed upon this casket is reflected in the elaborate silver-gilt mounts, added around 1600 by the German goldsmith Elias Baldtauff of Torgau, Saxony. After the First World War the kingdom of Saxony became a republic and the royal house of Wettin, formerly electors of Saxony, was deposed. As compensation they were awarded a number of treasures from the Green Vaults including this casket, which appears to have been sold shortly afterwards.