What are Snuff Boxes?


At Artisan Antiques we specialise in antique snuff boxes and if this is your first time seeing one, you may be wondering what snuff boxes are. It will be my pleasure to explain and guide you through the world of snuff boxes in today's blog post. 

Fig 1: Snuff in its original container. (Photo Credit)



Victorian Table Snuff Box

Snuff Boxes are containers that are designed to store, preserve and carry snuff - a form of smokeless tobacco made from grinding down tobacco leaves. Although upon purchase, snuff would be contained in a non-precious metal container, the wealthy and upper class would store the snuff in ornate and exquisite boxes made from precious metals such as silver, gold and even jewelled boxes.

Fig 2: A Victorian Silver Table Snuff Box (click image to view item).



Snuff boxes can mainly be categorised into two types: Pocket and Communal.

1) Pocket - This type of box would usually be a slim and small sized box that would be used for carrying snuff on the go and would usually store a day or twos worth of snuff. On the other hand, some boxes would be used as a symbolic present to a significant friend/partner/event instead of personal use - these boxes are usually referred to as presentation snuff boxes. 

Fig 3: A Classic Victorian Snuff Box made from sterling silver and a gilt Interior.





2) Communal - Communal snuff boxes are usually larger sized and heavier boxes that were often placed on tables of social gatherings, parliaments or large dining tables. Often serving as a status symbol of the house/place the size and different designs would symbolise as one of the measures of wealth. 

Fig 4: A magnificent Georgian table snuff box constructed from rose gold and sterling silver.



The boxes above are just a few of the vast types of boxes that have been made specifically for snuff - a quick internet search will present an incredible number of embellished, ornate and exquisite snuff boxes. As snuff grew popular during the 18th-19th century, many silversmiths, goldsmiths and jewellers commenced in the production of high-end boxes that were usually decorated with hand engravings, repoussé and intricate geometrical shapes.

If you are interested or planning to add a first to your collection of antiques/snuff boxes we highly recommend to have a good look around first - as with all areas of interest, it is often best to simply browse around to learn the different ages, types and designs of snuff boxes to start your journey on collecting these wonderful intricate objects. 

Below: A few from the selected bespoke collection of silver snuff boxes we offer. (Click Here to View)

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