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.
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