This small bronze mortar and pestle are from France, circa 1700. The circular opening has several layers of molding, with the bottom three interrupted by a pair of open crowns on opposing sides. Both crowns have a fleur de lys beneath it, with two more lily flowers in between (again, on opposing sides). The pestle has a few protruding rings (one near the end of the handle and another in the middle of the shaft) and a blunt tip, making it a light and functional utensil for grinding herbs.
The original use of a mortar and pestle was to aid pharmacists in crushing herbs into powder for medicinal purposes. In France, they were also used in the kitchens of grand chateaux. The material used to construct a mortar and pestle is almost always a hard substance, such as marble or stone, which could stand up to the rigors of use. Today, they are quite collectible, and although they can still be used in the kitchen for grinding spices, they are mostly used as decorative bowls or accessories.
CONDITION: Very good antique condition, with minor wear to the interior of the mortar and to the pestle, commensurate with grinding ingredients. Light verdigris in some areas.