The Palais Royal is an area in Paris around the Royal Palace that specialised in producing small elaborate works of art during the 18th and 19th centuries. Palais Royal sewing tools are the Faberge eggs of the needlework world.
The quality of the workmanship and design are exceptional and are eagerly sought after by collectors. Prices for complete sets can run into thousands of dollars.
The Palais-Royal was built by Cardinal Richelieu in Paris in the seventeenth and upon his death, in 1642, it passed into the possession of Louis XIII, at which time it acquired the name by which it is still known today, Palais-Royal.
In 1784 a newly completed arcade opened in the gardens of the Palais Royal. Along the arcade there were numerous shops, cafés, salons and a theatre and it quickly became one of the most important marketplaces and social venues in Paris.
Nearby there were workshops where master-craftsmen using gold, silver, enamel, precious stones, mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell to create small and elaborate works of art which were sold exclusively in the Palais Royal.
These beautiful and delicate needlewok tools are usually hallmarked either with a diamond shape or an enamelled pansy with green leaves.
The French word for pansy is pensée which also means "remembrance" or "thought". A gift of a posy of pansies from a lover was a floral message that they would be remembered when they were apart.
Many ladies displayed their work-box in their drawing rooms and they referred to them as necessaires as they contained many things which were necessary to a lady besides needlework tools:-
crystal phials of scent or vinaigrette, ear-wax spoons, ivory tooth-picks and/or fine writing implements such as small pen knives, pounce pots, ink bottles, pencils and quills.
Needles were expensive and needlewomen kept them in a needle case. There are many beautiful Palais Royal needle cases.
Workboxes could come in all shapes and sizes - round, square, hexagonal, oval, concave or convex.
Some were so small they could fit into a lady's reticule.
Workboxes in the shape of harpsichords and pianos had musical mechanisms that would play when the box was open.
Egg-shaped Palais Royal etuis could be made from large egg-shells, mother-of-pearl or tortoise-shell to look very like real eggs.
A perfect Easter gift for the discerning needle woman.