That’s the Snuff!

Powdered tobacco, or snuff, became popular throughout Europe during the 18th century. Originally shipped over from the Americas, the fine brown substance was considered a luxury commodity and usually the preserve of the very wealthy.

The etiquette for inhaling (or ‘snuffing’) this powder could often change dependant on the occasion, though it was invariably held in some form of snuffbox or mull, this being a small container used to keep it from moisture. The quality and materials employed for such snuffboxes were seen to reflect the social status of the owner, with many of the more modest boxes being made from lacquered or carved wood, with silver being reserved for the most deluxe examples.

Within our upcoming Silver auction we will be offering four such snuffboxes. With dates ranging 1812-1970, and estimates from £40-250, there is quite the variety, and certainly nothing to be sniffed at! Take Lot 875 for instance, dating back to 1827 and made by the esteemed silversmith Nathaniel Mills. With its interesting dedication inscription set within an engraved floral border this one stands as a nice juxtaposition to Lot 909, a plain oblong-form box made by John Shaw circa 1812.

So, whether you partake in the odd pinch of snuff, or more likely are someone looking to add to their collection, be sure to view these, as well as a wide range of other exquisite silver lots before our upcoming auction on October 10.


Click to view full illustrated catalogue >>

James Bruce


The specialist Silver Sales boast the finest examples of silver work; from the modest vesta to the weightiest casket, each item is given room to shine.

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