One of my favorite galleries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, is also one of the smallest: the tiny, glittering gallery filled with the equally glittering objects that were indispensable to 18th c ladies and gentlemen. Boxes for patches and snuff and powder, combs and mirrors and fans, all made from the most precious of metals and covered with bright enamels, jewels, and pastes. Everything is small enough to fit into a pocket, yet big enough to create maximum impact when casually pulled out in a ballroom or playhouse.
Another example, right, may be less colorful, but it makes equally efficient use of the small space (only 2"x3") to pack two crystal scent bottles, a patch box and mirror, tweezers, and an ear spoon. The green covering is shagreen, a hard-wearing luxury material in the 18th c that was either actual sharkskin or untanned leather treated to resemble sharkskin. The fittings are gold and gold-plate, with porcelain stoppers on the bottles. I particularly like the tiny swan on one of the stoppers - how marvelous that such a delicate trinket has managed to survive through the centuries!
Left: Necessaire, English (Staffordshire, c. 1760-1800, Enameled copper. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Right: Necessaire, French, third quarter of the 18th c. Shagreen on wood; fittings of gold, porcelain, glass, & steel. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
All photographs by Metropolitan Museum of Art.