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. This snuffbox features two compartments, which allowed an individual to carry two different types of snuff. Set in the red enamel faces of the lids are circular medallions showing classical figures painted "en caimeau."
Provenance James A. Garland; James A. Garland Sale, American Art Association, New York, February 26, 1910, no. 32; General Brayton Ives, New York; General Brayton Ives Sale, American Art Association, New York, April 6, 1915, no. 189; Harding, New York (date and mode of acquisition unknown); purchased by Henry Walters, Baltimore, January 7, 1916; by bequest, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore 1931.
Inscriptions [Mark of Goldsmith]On interior base and exterior bezel, mark for John Innocent: initials “I.I.” in square shield; [Mark of Assayer] on interior of base, indicating London Hall: leopard head; [Mark of Assayer] on interior base and exterior bezel, indicating London Hall: lion passant; [Date Mark] On the interior of the base, indicating the year 1778: C; [Restricted Warranty Mark] Twice struck on bezel, indicating import into Paris after January 1 1847: eagle head.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1916
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