A Pinch Of Snuff

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Welcome To Woman's Weekly -

Snuff tak­ing orig­i­nated in the Americas, but was widely avail­able in Europe and, by the 17th cen­tury, taken by the aris­to­cratic dandies of the time. A dandy was a smart, fash­ion­able gen­tle­man, who would en­joy preen­ing and show­ing off his ma­te­rial wealth.

Snuff is a finely ground tobacco, which would be sniffed into the nose. All man­ner of air­tight boxes were cre­ated to keep the pow­der dry. They were made in ev­ery con­ceiv­able ma­te­rial, from gold to wood. Birm­ing­ham pro­duced some fine-qual­ity sil­ver ex­am­ples early in the 19th cen­tury by em­i­nent mak­ers such as Nathaniel Mills, Sa­muel Pem­ber­ton and Ge­orge Unite.

This sil­ver snuff box (above right) was made by Ed­ward Smith, an­other renowned box maker, in 1810 and has engine-turned dec­o­ra­tion. It mea­sures just 7x4.5 cm. It’s in fine con­di­tion and has a value of around £250.

The de­light­ful ma­hogany gen­tle­man’s shoe (left) dates from the first quar­ter of the 19th cen­tury. This box with a lid that slides back to re­veal the con­tents would set you back around £150.

For col­lec­tors with a lower bud­get, the soft-wood box (above), hand-carved in the late 19th cen­tury to re­sem­ble a book, could be snapped up for as lit­tle as £20.

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