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Rare double set of 280 counters




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As is very well known and documented, from around 1750 onwards most counters came to England in sets of 140 - sometimes with a spare or two added to compensate for future breakages or losses. It has been suggested that a very small number of orders were placed in Canton for larger sets - for instance the famous set made for Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III may possible have been a double-set. That is why the counters discussed here are so special. The group comprises 252 matching counters : 69 rounds, 38 'squares' and 145 long-oblongs. Quite a mass of quality mother-of-pearl! These numbers would suggest that originally there were 280 counters (40 'squares', 80 rounds and 160 long-oblongs, though this is obviously guess-work). What is pleasing is that they all bear the monogram CB in a roundel with very fine back-hatching; they have an intricately fretted border of scrolling leaves, fruits and stems; they are decorated to a very high standard, with a full scene of Chinese life to the reverse showing two or three people at various pursuits. This would have been a sight to delight their original owner ( would it not be interesting to know who he or she was?): Charlotte Bronte?? That is a thought!! Unfortunately there is no hope of finding that out.  But we can tell from their style that they were made in Canton in around 1840 to a very high standard, so CB must have been a wealthy person; and a very proud one when these arrived from China!

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