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A french empire ormolu and griotte marble ink stand, commemorating andre gretry. set upon four ormolu bun feet the well figured rouge marble with fine applied mount incorporating musical and literary trophies. the ecrier mounted with a portrait bust of the composer and the monument behind inscribed with his most famous works. napoleon was a great admirer of gretry. an enigma appeared when i came to clean the ecrier. the flame emanating from gretry's head had appeared odd to me although it was period and appeared to belong. on unbolting the bust and lifting it off i found inserted in the bust a test tube cushioned by hair and having traces of a white powder at the bottom. i had thought that the flame on gretry's head was integral to the cast but on seeing the tube with some effort and with strong tools i managed to twist it and indeed there was a well made thread. it had not been turned for many years, possibly not since the ecrier was fairly new. access to this powder would have been by pipette or syringe, certainly not by the means i had used. it was something completely hidden. it is intriguing to think who it was that this ecrier was made for, unlikely to be gretry himself but certainly a great admirer. a very unique historical object. french circa 1815. 7in high by 7in wide (17.7cms by 17.7 cms). andre gretry (1741-1813) was a french composer of comic operas.