Description Originating in the Americas, the practice of “taking snuff,” or inhaling pulverized tobacco through the nose, became a common European custom by the 17th century. Consumers of all social levels and of both sexes would carry small, airtight boxes filled with the powdered tobacco, taking a pinch whenever they needed. Over time, however, society’s elites began to purchase and commission increasingly extravagant and precious boxes. Kings and Queens would often present snuffboxes to ambassadors as diplomatic gifts and to courtiers as payment for services. Made of a variety of precious materials, including gold, enamel, semiprecious stones, lacquer, and tortoiseshell, snuffboxes were coveted and enthusiastically collected. Displaying one’s collection of prized snuffboxes or stylishly retrieving an elegant box from one’s pocket were important social rituals; these objects revealed a person’s tastes, interests, and erudition. The designs on this box were engraved in low relief on a "sablé" (sand-like) ground.
Provenance Frederick Henry Maitland, 13th Earl of Lauderdale (1840-1924); Sale, Christie's, London, June 30, 1911, no. 62; Harding, London [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1914, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Mark of Goldsmith] On the interior of the lid, indicating the work of Jean Frémin: remaining part of Crowned fleur-de-lis flanked by two grains de remède, over the initials JF with the head of an eagle, facing left, underneath; [Warrant or decharge]On the exterior of the bezel: bird head; [Mark of Assayer] On the interior of the bottom, interior of the lid, and interior of the side, indicating the year 1751; remaining part of crowned, italic L.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1914
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