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Superb armorial cardcase




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I recently acquired a very special Chinese ivory cardcase. Cardcases - to hold the Victorian lady's or gentleman's visiting cards - were in high demand in Canton and there are some superb examples. But this one is outstanding in my view! It was a special order made for the Morley family with their two ( three?) crests - a man in armour holding in his right hand a baton, with a sash around his body;  issuing from a ducal coronet, a griffin's head between two wings ( the two crests belonged to two different branches of the family); and in a roundel as well you will also see a lepoard's face 'jessant-de-lys' which is the arms and also the crest for Morley of Marrick Park, Yorkshire - as it doesn't have a torse it may be intended as the arms. Most unusually the cardcase is dated Canton, 11 November 1859. And finally there the family motto, written in French : S'ils te mordent, mord-les, meaning: If they bite you, bite them (back)! Why this strange motto? The last two words in French are pronounced 'mor - lay', exactly the same as the family name.

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