Andersen, Hans Christian. (1805–1875)

His Etui and a small Papercut Figure

A finely made etui, bone with black lacquered decoration and mounted with gilded metal, understood to have belonged to the beloved Danish author best known for such classic fairy tales as “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Red Shoes,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Enclosed is a handwritten note in an early unidentified hand reading "Hans Christian Andersens Etui" and "Harboe" to verso, along with a small paper cut of a bull, apparently accomplished by the author.  Etui measures 2.5 x 5 x .5 inches (6.5 x 13 x 1.5 cm.).

A popular art in the 19th-century, Hans Christian Andersen's talents in creating unusual and charming papercuts were well-known. Designed to serve as souvenirs from evenings spent engaged in story-telling and other amusements, Andersen would often present his creations to members of his audience. With both children and adults gathered round, he would begin a fairy tale and, at the same time, he would extract an enormous pair of scissors from the pocket of his overcoat and commence cutting. The audience would be riveted to both aspects of this performance; not only did they want to know the conclusion of his tale but they wanted to see how the piece of paper would be transformed. When he was finished, he would open up the paper to reveal his whimsical, curious, and, on occasion, grotesque designs. Usually the finished papercuts did not make reference to the tale he had just told, but rather simply served as a means for Andersen's imaginative expressions, as well as to amuse the recipients of these wonderful gifts. The present case is identified as having belonged to Andersen and though the style of the enclosed cutout is somewhat different from his more well known folding cutouts, it is presumed to be by the author as well. (19049)

Literature & Classics