Snuff Boxes – Information and History.
In eighteenth-century Europe, Paris led the production of high-quality luxury goods. Parisian goldsmiths made a wide range of small, personal articles such as snuff boxes; étuis to hold sealing wax, tweezers, or utensils for sewing; souvenirs, which contained thin ivory tablets for note taking; and shuttles for knotting lace. Gold snuff boxes and boxes decorated with portrait miniatures were prized and frequently given as royal gifts, often to ambassadors or members of the court in lieu of cash payments for their services. Coveted and admired, these boxes were produced from a variety of materials. The best were skillfully made of gold and embellished with diamonds, enameled decoration, lacquer, and other luxurious materials. By the middle of the century, the taking of snuff had become an entrenched social ritual, and the snuff box, too, had become an important social prop. Snuff boxes were considered highly fashionable accessories, with some merchants advertising new boxes with each change of season. The popularity of snuff boxes extended to all levels of society, and for those who could not afford gold, boxes were produced in less expensive materials such as silver, tortoiseshell, porcelain, or domestically produced lacquer.
A painted enamel gilt-metal mounted shell-form snuff box Qianlong Finely chased with a floral and foliate meander to the rim, the exterior painted to simulate a scallop shell, reserved to the base with a variety of flower sprays, the interior with butterflies amongst a fruiting gourd plant and further flowering plants.
7.6cm (3in) wide. Sold for £ 11,875 at Bonham Composite snuff-box (a) made of coconut shell with basketwork neck. Snuff sample (b) made of vegetable fibre inside snuff-box. British Museum A SWISS JEWELLED ENAMELLED MUSICAL GOLD SNUFF-BOX WITH AUTOMATON, THE MUSIC LESSON
THE BOX BY GUIDON, GIDE & BLONDET FILS (FL. 1801-1804), MARKED, GENEVA, CIRCA 1804, THE MOVEMENT WITH SCRATCHED SIGNATURE ‘ANT. ROJARD À GENÈVE, INVINIT ET FECIT, NO 2170’, FOR ANTOINE ROJARD, GENEVA
rectangular box with canted corners, the cover, sides and base set with panels of dark-blue translucent enamel on an engine-turned ground, the cover centred with a square enamel plaque depicting the Muse of Music with two cherubs in attendance, within a chased foliate gold and opaque sky-blue enamel frame, with seed-pearl outer border, the sides, base and pilasters with black and white taille d’épargne enamel foliate and pellet sprays and borders, the cover opening to reveal a painted polychrome enamel interior with applied vari-coloured gold automaton scene depicting a lady playing the tympanon, accompanied by a standing gentleman beating time and a monkey playing the triangle, two figures to the left clapping their hands when the lady and the music stop, the scene activated by a lever in the band, the base opening to reveal a small compartment that contains the original winding key, with gilt-finished movement with fusée and chain, musical pin drum with stacked tuned teeth. Sold for GBP 272,750 at Christies Antique Russian Masonic silver snuff box. Antique silver snuff box, hinged lid. Gold Masonic Craft Lodge emblem on the lid. The inside of the lid is engraved “œD. R. Clark Glasgow”, and the Masonic Craft Lodge emblem. Weight: 95 grams (3t oz 1.086419 dwt). 1″ H x 3″ W x 1 3/8″ D. Sold for $275 at Antiques Supermarket Gold, enamel and diamond snuff box. Attributed to Daniel Baudesson (1716–1785, working 1730–80)
Possibly enamelled by Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki (German, Danzig 1726–1801 Berlin)
Baudesson worked in Berlin at the court of Frederick the Greak, whose own collection of snuff boxes was extragavant both in size and taste. Although neither marked nor signed, this box has all the features of others inscribed with the names of Baudesson and Chodowiecki. Reference: The Metropolitan Museum of Art A silver and enamel snuff box, probably French,
cartouche form, the lid and base painted with pastoral subjects, the silver sides chased with strapwork, the rim with illegible marks
Larg. 6,5 cm, 2 5/8 in.
probably circa 1730. Sold for 625 EUR at Sothebys Snuff box of carved wood in the shape of a shoe.
Snuff, or powdered tobacco, was widely popular throughout Europe from the 17th century. Sniffed from the back of the hand, from pinched fingers or from a spoon, snuff was enjoyed on social occasions and would be placed on the table or passed around a group. Thousands of small portable boxes to contain the powder were made as personal accessories, often in novel designs, to be given as gifts. Shoe- and boot-shaped snuff boxes were made throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Shoes have long been associated with love and marriage and were often given for good luck. This carved wooden snuff box has brass stud decoration forming the ‘stitching’ on the shoe. The top of the shoe is hollowed out to hold the snuff, and a separate piece of wood forms a sliding lid.