Fine-arts photographer Monica Rich Kosann's exhibition-quality pictures have earned great renown for their distinctive aesthetic and their timelessness. Working exclusively in black and white, she creates collections that are designed to be cherished for generations. But while her photographs are inarguably stunning on their own, Monica likes to frame them in silver "image cases" -- beautiful compact frames inspired by vintage compacts and cigarette cases. Today, Monica, who has been collecting and restoring such silver pieces for years, discusses her extensive collection, as well as her own skillful, modern-day reproductions.
As Monica explains, a wonderful photograph encased in an exquisite frame makes an excellent gift or keepsake, and over the years, she has found numerous treasures at flea markets, tag sales, and antiques stores. Most of Monica's examples were made in the United States, England, or Italy, and cost $190 or more apiece. Some of her favorites are a 1930s Danish blue-glass enamel case, which features a "935 Silver" marking; an ornate 1920s cigarette case inscribed with Asian lettering; a 1940s Art Deco case made in Birmingham, England; and a rare, Middle Eastern filigree case that she found at a flea market. In addition, Monica's collection includes a lovely vintage silver compact filled with powder, which she found at the Paris Antique Markets; a stately case inscribed with the date "1889" and the words "His Imperial Majesty" over a gold crest, which was most likely a favor from a royal dinner party; and an unusual Italian case, hand-engraved with magnificent swirling designs.
Monica says the "image cases" she designs assume a variety of shapes and styles. In fact, many of her smaller pieces are inspired by pillboxes and pocket watches, some of her more elaborate cases are encrusted with stones, and still others, which are made of kiln-fired glass enamel, resemble the jewel-like works of Faberge manufactured both in the United States and Italy. Monica's cases make wonderful graduation or wedding presents and are available at select jewelers and specialty retailers.