The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Shuttle
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France, Paris
  • mid 18th century
  • Steel and gold, gilded and chased
  • Length: 14.8 cm
    Width: 4.7 cm
    Height: 2.7 cm
  • W210
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This iron knotting shuttle is made up of two oval plaques joined together by an oval central column. The plaques have been chased with a border of overlapping circles which has been falsely damascened (gold foil hammered onto the roughened surface) in gold on a chased ground. In the centre is a gold medallion falsely damascened in gold with a foliate V and intertwined L’s below a laurel wreath. Surrounding the medallion is interlaced foliage which has been pierced and chased.
    The initials on the shuttle suggest that this was owned by Marie-Louise-Therère-Victoire (1733-1799), she was the seventh child of Louis XV and Queen Marie Leszczyńska.
    This object would not have been made by a goldsmith, but by a fourbisseur (furbisher), who would have made mounts for items like swords as well as snuffboxes and supplied them to a marchand mercier (dealer) to sell on.
    Knotting was a past time for genteel ladies in the 18th century. Knotting was a method of creating a braid by knotting the silk thread at close intervals till a cord was formed which could then be added to a dress or upholstery. First the thread was wound onto the central column of the shuttle, which was then unwound as and when the thread was needed. Knotting shuttles were often made of expensive materials, such as tortoiseshell, mother of pearl as well as silver and gold and as such they were often given as gifts.