From Historic Silver of the Colonies and Its Makers by Francis Hill Bigelow
New York; Macmillan: 1917, p. 395. No longer under copyright.
Available from the Internet Archive at Archive.org.
This snuff box was probably given by the Duke of Sussex to Ball Hughes in the 1820's. It was owned by George Edward Brown when this book was published in 1917. George Edward Brown was the grandson of Robert Ball Hughes. The current location of the silver snuff box is unknown.
In the article above, "a tavern scene after Teniers" refers to one of the many tavern scenes painted by David Teniers, the Younger (1610-1690), a Flemish artist who painted during the Baroque period. See also the article: David Teniers the Younger by Darcy O'Neil at ArtofDrink.com.
From the Wikipedia article Decorative Box: "One of the more functional types of decorative boxes is the snuff box, which is now largely a relic of the once popular practice of taking snuff. These tiny, decorative, utilitarian boxes were an indispensable accessory for many upper-class people from the 18th century through the middle of the 19th century. Since prolonged exposure to air causes snuff to dry out and lose its quality, pocket snuff boxes were designed to be airtight containers with strong hinges, generally with enough space for a days worth of snuff only." ...
"Even after snuff-taking ceased to be popular in general, the practice lingered among diplomats. Monarchs retained the habit of bestowing snuff-boxes upon ambassadors and other intermediaries as a form of honor. As Talleyrand explained, the diplomatic corp found a ceremonious pinch to be a useful aid to reflection in a business interview. At the coronation of George IV of England, Messrs. Rundell and Bridge, the court jewelers, were paid £ 8,205 for snuff-boxes for gifts to foreign representatives."
According to the Regnas Collection: "Throughout European and colonial history in the 18th and 19th centuries the snuff box was perhaps the major personal, and often bespoke, possession. More generally owned than a timepiece, a snuff box (sometimes two and even three were carried) represented a lasting reflection of personal status and taste. The most important gift that a man was likely to receive was the gift of a snuff box."
Read more about snuff boxes in the article A Few Old Snuff-Boxes by Emma Carleton in House Beautiful, Volume 12, Number One, June 1902; Hearst Corp., pp. 300-301. Available as a Google eBook at Google Books.
last update 5/24/2011
For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2011