A rare early antique silver snuff box from the provincial city of Norwich. Attractive rectangular octagonal form with hinged lid hand engraved with a scroll design and initials “JL”. Excellent silver patina. Original gilt interior with a deep colour. Weight 63 grams, 2 troy ounces. Height 1,1 cms. Top 7.25 x 5.25 cms. Marked inside the base with initials for the Norwich lady silversmith Elizabeth Haslewood. Makers mark only, circa 1690.
This excellent little box is in good condition with no damage or restoration. The base has a clear makers mark for Elizabeth Haslewood, top unmarked The gilt interior is bright and original. The engraved decoration is still crisp. The hinge works well. There is some wear consistent with use over the years; the top is a little “pushed in” and there is a bruise to the front corner, the base has some shallow dents, the gilt is rubbed inside the base and there are some black marks.
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.