05 June 2016

A Compact Problem

This must be the first time on Top eBay Chess Items by Price that I have to admit I don't really understand what the item is. The title said, 'Silver enamel compact "Marie Antoinette play move chess with Papa Vatican"', which starts reasonably before it descends into gibberish.

I'll give the seller the benefit of the doubt and assume that English is not his/her mother tongue. I'll also assume that Google Translate plus copy/paste from other auctions both played a role in preparing the writeup for this auction. Some more astute collectors knew exactly what the item was because it sold for US $820.18 after 12 bids from four bidders.

The box looks large in the photo because there is nothing to compare it with, like a coin or a paperclip. I'll resist the natural temptation to edit the description and will just copy it from the original.

This is a beautiful genuine antique rare. Before 1900 natural & original fantastic powder screen. SILVER ENAMEL COMPACT. Ultra rare antique & unreconstituted this compact is stamp 935 case inside gold plated ... Weight : 106.50 gr. ... Diameter are : 7.5 cm x 5.5 cm. TOP QUALITY !!!

NATURAL & GENUINE ANTIQUE. ABSOLUTELY NO RETURN !!! PLEASE ASK ALL QUESTIONS BEFORE BIDDING !!! Beautiful color, wonderful condition. Dimension & Measure : 3 x 2.5 inch. The closing latch clips over a small post that has a blue stone in it (see pics). A very nice little compact.

Aucun accident à signaler sur cette belle pièce.

That last line ('No blemishes to point out on this beautiful object.') tells us that the seller is a native French speaker. The title is better understood as "Marie Antoinette plays chess with the Vatican Pope", although it could be a lesser cleric with a less noteworthy representative of European nobility. As for the key word 'compact', Wikipedia informs,

A compact (also powder box and powder case) is a cosmetic product. It is usually a small round metal case and contains two or more of the following: a mirror, pressed or loose face powder with a gauze sifter and a powder puff. • Compact (cosmetics)

As for the meaning of 'gauze sifter', I'll just leave it as a small mystery.

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