Chic snuff box
The craze of sniffing tobacco powder is a habit that has arisen from the desire for luxury and display, much more than smoking tobacco. It is not surprising that snuff taking involves valuable objects that were not in use by the pipe smoker. The snuff boxes are the most opulent examples of this vogue. This early snuff box from around 1720 is such a luxury item. It is a small oval, but still very flat silver box of which the largest size measures only eight centimeters. The origin is probably French, but English variants also occur. The silver hallmarks do not provide conclusive evidence for a maker. What makes this box so chic is the stylish inlay on the lid. A technique that is referred to in French as piqué posé, in England as hair-pique and in Dutch simply as Piqué werk. On the lid of this box we see a beautiful Louis XIV shell motif, with a solid plate of tortoise is engraved with a decor that has been filled in with silver and mother-of-pearl. To increase the fineness, the silver inlay has been embellished with engraving stitches. This created a impressive display full of contrasts. If you tapped the box lid a few times before taking a pinch - the fine powder could fall on the bottom - you had caught all the attention of the bystanders. Then one could only hope that others could not pull out a more posh box!
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 22.819Permalink