Antique Chinese mother of pearl gaming counter earrings with Japanese Lake Biwa pearl and sterling silver. eror477
Antique Chinese mother of pearl gaming counter earrings with Japanese
Antique 18th century Chinese carved mother of pearl gaming counter with genuine vintage Japanese Lake Biwa pearl and sterling silver ear wires. The counters have a detailed carving of a man drawing water from a well on one side and a circular ornamental design with monogram on the other. The mother of pearl on these disks are is extremely iridescent making it difficult to capture the carving detail in the photo. The gaming counter is 1 5/8 inches in diameter and the total length of the earring from the top of the ear wire is 2 7/8 inches. The natural golden pink color of the Biwa pearl is a perfect complement to the rainbow iridescent of the counters. The earrings have been newly assembled with these beautiful old components. This 225 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.