Engraving is is the art of inscribing forms of design, decoration, symbols and lettering into a hard surface by hand.
The engraver begins the process by drawing or stenciling the design onto the object. The design is then traced, lightly etching it using a point tool. A variety of hand gravers or burins are then used to properly engrave the traced design. The graver, or burin, is a steel stemmed or bladed cutting tool that can come in a variety of differently shaped cutting tips. They usually had a mushroom shaped or knobbed handle that sat comfortably in the palm of the hand to aid hand-propelling.
Varying sizes of sand filled leather pads were used as a working surface so as to keep the object stable whilst being carefully maneuvered during the engraving process.
‘Bright Cut’ engraving was a process by which a polished graver was used to make polished incisions, creating a highly reflective engraved surface. This ‘Bright Cut’ engraving was often used on the silver bottle and jar tops belonging to dressing cases and vanity boxes.
Engraving always been considered as a very skilled art form and it took true artistry and painstaking time and precision to achieve the sort of levels of perfection seen on these boxes. Interestingly, this process of hand engraving, along with the use of the same types of tools, remains unchanged to this day.