Small Palais Royale tray.Gilt metal and mother of pearl.
The Revolution ended in 1799 and Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, becoming Emperor in 1804. Despite France being at War, the Palais Royal was again restored as an area for social gathering. The galleries on three sides of the courtyard housed shops selling only the finest wares. This area with its beautiful gardens, cafes and shops became the place to be seen in the early years of the 19th Century. It again fell into disrepair when gambling was banned in 1838 but restored in the 1870’s. This is why there are no pearl Palais Royal sewing tools around after 1840.
Some of the most desirable needlework tools for which the Palais Royal is now so famous were made in the early 19th Century. Mother of Pearl was most popular in France at that time. However, workboxes and etuis with tools in ivory, silver, gold, steel, gilded metal and combinations of several of these materials were also sold from the Palais Royal shops through the 19th Century. However, it is the Mother of Pearl tools that are considered most collectable.
Many were beautifully carved and had no need of further embellishment. Also not all Mother of Pearl tools are Palais Royal. In much the same way that some people refer to any carved ivory item as ‘Dieppe’, so it has become common for pearl sewing tools to be wrongly described as Palais Royal.