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A few months before my sister-in-law died she gave this small engraved silver plate to my wife, a token of appreciation for all the help she has been over the past few years. I have only recently retrieved it from the display case to look at it closely. It is pretty neat! The image is lovely of course, but my fascination was the detailed information engraved on the plate itself!
After a fashion we managed to read it all and translate it ... then in some paperwork we located a small scrap with the hard work all done. The original painting is by French artist, Dedrick. Later, in 1764 J.G. Wille, the King's engraver, made this miniature and it was then colored .. .by him or someone else we shall never know!
The smallest engraving is nearly as tiny as a watchmakers note on an old case when they do a repair.
Nice research work, how legible is the engrqaving on your piece today?
It's hard to tell from the photos you've provided but it appears quite discoloured, its a pity it wasn't cleaned more often as upkeep to help maintain its quality over the years.
I will add, for the interested observer, this thing is a bit of an enigma! Exactly what is it? It is three dimensional, and the writing below the artwork is engraved. It is the post engraved (or possible etched?) coloring which is the curious thing. It smacks of a repro item one might buy in a museum shop! But to go to the lengths of the intricate and very tiny engraving (which possible could be mass produced?) seems unlikely. It is hard to imagine making more than one of these. And as of yet, we have not determined if the late is copper or not. The inking was clearly applied larger as it is, in several places, washed over the engraved lettering.
We just are not sure what we have here, but we adore it.
Yours is a print, or copy of a print, made by Jean Georges Wille from an engraving plate made by Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich.
Musiciens Ambulants Engraving made (1764) at the British Museum
This thing continues to puzzle us. We removed all the cellophane or clear wrap yesterday to get a better look. A close examination of the back of it and one can see the outline of the rectangular frame of the front! It is all washed or slathered with some black medium so it is not real clear. I grabbed a 10X lens from my watch bench and we sat and examined it. Well, I can see the letters for AMBULANS, in reverse in the back! And maybe some of the other “engraving” also, hard to be sure.
So, what I am led to think now, is this is a mass produced copper plate formed by a high pressure or rolling against a platter with the image etched or whatever on it. Then it is painted. So at this time we are more sure this is maybe a museul shop souvenir. Still a neat small piece to have and still of unknown date.
I am struck though, even with my loupe, the lettering appears to be engraved! But engraving would not compress through and leave a shadow on the backside, it must by die formed in some manner.
My wife has decided to contact the British Museum and inquire as there were some notes with many of the other items about so e museum procurements.
Thank you for your input. Z