Snuff boxes

The habit to snuff grinded tobacco emerged already during the 17th century. It started as a fashion statement in the high upper-class, where the expensive perfumed tobacco from the New World was in vogue. To store a small quantity of snuff tobacco you needed a box and especially during the 18th century these boxes developed to a status symbol.

At the French and German courts the snuff box was one of the most beloved gifts, out of embossed gold, stuck with precious stones or fine enamel panels. Inevitably the habit made its way to the bourgeois, where the silver snuff box gained popularity. All fashion styles of the 18th and 19th century are represented in these boxes.

Snuff tobacco has been produced in huge quantities and only exclusive mixtures with rare aromas stay high in price; the common type of snuff came available to the man in the street. This is clearly reflected in the snuff boxes, which tend to become plain and simple. Quite common are the boxes from pressed buffalo horn, a very steady material, sometimes embellished with plaques of tortoise-shell. Boxes of papier-mâché originate from Germany, but were copied in various countries. The quality of these boxes lies in the painting that can be extremely fine, however, most of them are decorated with printed pictures, maybe hand-colored to have at least some artwork.

In the countryside snuff boxes were be made out of wood, in various shapes, for instance like a shoe or in some cases in erotic style. Oddities came in materials like shell, fitted with a lid, or a boat with hidden closing.

Silver snuff box with rectangular shape and decoration in relief. The Netherlands, 1750-1780. Rectangular snuff tobacco box with basket work round the sides. The Netherlands, Schoonhoven, 1750-1780.
Oval silver snuff tobacco box, on the lid the portrait of a royal surrounded by branches with leaves. France, 1750-1790.
Lid of the above shown snuff box with decoration in Louis XV-style. The Netherlands, Schoonhoven, 1750-1780.
Snuff box with painted scene in enamel on the lid showing the view on a port including sailing boats. England ?, 1800-1850.
Simple rectangular snuff box with on the lid an engraving of the Order of the Garter. England, 1820-1850.
A nice rectangular snuff box in buffalo horn pressed with an historical scene on the lid. France, 1820-1850.
Circular snuff box of pressed material, on the lid an Arcadian landscape with temple ruins. France, 1810-1840.
Ivory snuff box with on the lid behind glass a theatrical scene made in colored wax. France, 1780-1820.
A round snuff box of pressed buffalo horn with the portrait of a man and text, the interior with tortoise-shell. England, 1820-1850.
Snuff box in vernis martin, a type of lacquer framed in gilt brass fitting. France, 1760-1790.
Snuff box in papier machee finished in lacquer, on the lid behind glass a painted portrait of a gentleman. France, 1760-1800.
Snuff box in tuya wood, on the inside covered with 21 carate gold. France, 1810-1820.
Papier-mâché snuff box painted with the bust of a lady in a feathered hat. Germany?, 1820-1850.
Snuff box in papier-mâché with on the lid a scene of two women on a swing. France, 1830-1850.
Papier-mâché snuff box painted over a transfer with a comic scene. Germany, 1820-1850.
The interior of the above shown snuff box with a slightly erotic scene. France, 1830-1850.
Circular snuff box in lacquer with on the lid three medallions of royals from the House of Orange. The Netherlands, 1840-1860. Snuff box in papier-mâché with a monochrome portrait of a member of the House of Orange. Germany, 1830-1850.
Papier-mâché snuff box on both sides printed with the calendar of the year 1843. France, 1842-1843. Papier-mâché snuff box with a transfer showing a calendar. France, 1835-1845.
Ordinary papier-mâché snuff box with crude painting of a militairy man with a cocked hat. France, 1820-1850.
A rectangular snuff box painted with a Russian troika. Russia, 1830-1870.
Papier-mâché snuff box finished in lacquer in a simple geometrical design. France, 1830-1850.
Snuff box in ivory with a silver button and ring on the lid. France?, 1820-1860.
Navicular shaped snuff box in wood finished with silver rims and medallion on the lid. France, 1810-1840.
Snuff box in coquianut carved with two persons, the left smoking from a large pipe, a pyramid in the background. France, 1820-1840.
Beautiful snuff box in tuya wood shaped like a cane head. France, 1820-1840.
Rectangular snuff box in papier machee, the lid decorated with gold spirals. France. 1850-1880. Simple snuff box in papier machee with ribbed decoration, the outside painted black. France, 1830-1860.
Snuff tobacco box in rose-wood shaped like a coffin, the interior with blue paper. France, 1840-1870.
Figural snuff box shaped like a shoe, lacquer inlayed with pewter lines. England, 1860-1890.
Snuff box in wood shaped like a phallus and scrotum, the lid opens with a string of leather. France, 1870-1900.
Snuff box executed like a shoe with square nose, the sole hiding a secret lock. France?, 1850-1880.
Folk art snuff box in wood shaped like a phallus. France, 1870-1900. Snuff box in wood shaped like a phallus and scrotum, the lid opens with a string of leather. France, 1870-1900.
The sole of the above snuff box showing the secret lock. France?, 1850-1880.
Simple rectangular snuff box in buffalo horn on the lid the picture of the Notre Dame of Lourdes. France, 1880-1910.
An ordinary snuff box in wood with a simple lid in buffalo horn. France, Brittany, 1880-1920.
Snuff box shaped like a wooden shoe with a secret system of closing. France, 1850-1890.
A snuff box for a farmer in wood shaped like a wooden shoe, the lid handle is a ring. France, Brittany, 1870-1900.
Snuff box now in open position showing the different elements of the secret lock. France, 1850-1890.
Snuff box made from a tropical shell, the lid contains another piece of shell of the same type. France, 1800-1850. Snuff box made from a tropical shell mounted in brass. France, 1820-1860.
Snuff box in mahogany wood shaped like a ship, the lid turns away on the top of the box. France, 1830-1860.

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