A charming antique silver mounted horn snuff box having a rising lid with an elaborate silver strapwork hinge and a silver band around the top edge. Attractive waisted shape. Height 6 cms. Top measures 4 x 3.7 cms. Unmarked silver. Most probably Scottish. Underneath there is the incised date “1671” which is probably the original date.
This desirable little Scottish collector’s item is in used condition. No restoration. The horn is smooth and has a good colour, there are a few hairline fractures. The silver is unmarked. The silver hinge is complete and works well. The top silver band has no damage; the silver band at the bottom is missing, you can still see the pegs and little holes where it was once fitted. The inside of the lid has a brass band; this looks original.
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 honor.