Take a Pinch

26th October 2018

Snuff boxes have always been popular at auction and some people have very large extensive collection. Snuff is a powder for sniffing contained in small boxes often of simple plain form but some can be very ornate with lavish portraits, hunting scenes and other topographical scenes. By the late 17th century it was common to find them made in gold, silver, horn or treen.


The majority of snuff was tobacco-based with hundreds of varieties available throughout Britain. By the late 17th Century, ornate boxes were being produced to keep the precious snuff dry. Throughout European and colonial history in the 18th and 19th centuries the snuff box was a major, often bespoke, indispensable personal possession. This craze may have been spurred on by King George IV’s obsession with them. He had a remarkable collection and even had a whole room designated for his different types of snuff. Upon his death however, Queen Victoria had all of the boxes broken up to be made into jewellery.