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Meissen Box Commemorative of Halley’s Comet


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Dates Circa 1758
Medium Porcelain
Origin Germany
Description Meissen box commemorative of Halley’s Comet which passed the earth in 1758-9

Edmond Halley's prediction of the comet's return in 1758 proved to be correct, although it was not seen until 25 December 1758. This was sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch, a German farmer and amateur astronomer. However it did not pass through its perihelion (the nearest point viewable to the earth) until March 13th 1759

Therefore this important occurrence was first viewed by a German and led the Meissen factory to commission a commemorative ‘Comet Box’. The card symbols on the lid and base: Diamonds and Spades of which
there are 8 on top and 8 on the base, reads cryptically as an 8 - for 1758 plus the star or flaming tailed comet in the centre adds up to 9 - for 1759

The painting inside shows a gathering of 5 people viewing the comet passing. The main character dressed in green conducting the viewing is perhaps a representation of Palitzsch? In the centre of the golden comet is a card with the same configuration of 8 + 1 = 9 red spots. i.e. 1758 - 1759

Comet jewellery was also very popular at this date in Europe as it denoted that people had seen or understood Halley’s comet, which was an important happening in the ‘Age of Enlightenment’.