An excellent quality silver snuff box with a very smart black and white check niello finish. Good chunky design. Weight 82 grams, 2.6 troy ounces. Height 2.1 cms. Length 8.3 cms. Width 3 cms. Marked inside lid and on edge of lid, also marked inside the base, with Viennese silver import marks, 1872-1901.
This attractive little snuff box is in very good condition with no damage or restoration. The niello work is in good order.
Please note that this item is not new and will show moderate signs of wear commensurate with age. Reflections in the photograph may detract from the true representation of this item.
The practice of grinding tobacco leaves for personal use, by inhaling the powder, was first recorded in 1650. This habit soon became popular creating a demand for snuff boxes. These were made in two sizes; personal boxes to fit in a waistcoat pocket which would hold a small quantity, enough for immediate consumption, and communal boxes made for table use. People of all social classes used these boxes when snuff was at its peak of popularity and the wealthy carried a variety of fancy snuff boxes in precious metals, with jewels, enamels and portrait miniatures. Boxes made for the poorer snuff takers were more ordinary; popular and cheap boxes were made in papier-mâché and even potato-pulp, which made durable boxes that kept the snuff in good condition. Even after snuff-taking ceased to be a general habit, the practice lingered among diplomats, doctors, lawyers and other professionals as well as members of professions where smoking was not possible, such as miners and print workers. Monarchs retained the habit of bestowing snuff-boxes upon ambassadors and other intermediaries as a form of honour.