18th c. Chinese mother of pearl gaming counter earrings,fish shaped. eror497

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18th c. antique Chinese mother of pearl carved and engraved gaming counter earrings in the shape of a fish with gold plated ear wires.  The fish shaped counter was popular in the 1700s  with different shapes gaining popularity in the 1800s,

The counters have a detailed etchings of scales on both sides but on one side, there are lovebirds,in a circle under the fish head.  The mother of pearl on these counters are very  iridescent making it difficult to fully capture the etching detail in the photo. The gaming counter are 5/8 inches wide and  2 1/4 inches long.  Total length of the earring from the top of the ear wire is 3 inches.

This 200+  year old, hand-engraved gaming chip was created in China for export to Britain's aristocracy of the day. During the early 1700's, wealthy European families commissioned Chinese artisans to make finely engraved sets of mother-of-pearl gaming counters for use in parlor games such as Ombre, Quadrille, Loo and Whist. The demand for these miniature works of art declined after 1840 when card games that did not require gaming tokens became more popular. The shells were ground flat, shaped, polished and engraved - 150-300 years ago, and all by hand! The particular large mollusk that provided these large flat shells was hunted to extinction to supply this trade.