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. On this box, one can see exuberant bird and vegetal Rococo motifs.
|12/18/1986||Examination||examined for condition|
Provenance Paris, 1726-1732 [tax-stamps for the sous-fermier Jacques Cottin]; Harding, New York [date and mode of aquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1921, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Mark of Goldsmith] On the interior of the side, interior of the lid, and interior of the bottom, indicating the work of Noel Hardivilliers: crowned fleur-de-lis over flanked by two grains de remède, above NH with a rooster in profile; [Mark of Assayer] Partially obscured on the interior side and mostly obscured on interior of lid, indicating Jacques Cottin: possibly crowned dolphin head; [Mark of Warden] On the interior side, date of 1731-1732; crowned P; [Warranty or décharge] On the exterior bezel, indicating Jacques Cottin: crowned chancellor’s mace.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1921
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