A Pinch Of Snuff
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.