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Snuff Box thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Snuff Box

1825-1830 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This snuffbox is clearly too big to have been used by an individual. An inscription on the underside of the lid reads 'J. Machin / Union / Commercial Room / S. Raven Pinxt'. J. Machin was the landlord of a pub called The Union in Cherry Street, Birmingham from 1825. This must have been bought for his 'Commercial Room', where salesmen, clerks and others working in city offices and shops would have met. The portrait of George IV on the lid was presumably chosen as a patriotic gesture and suggests that the box was made before William IV came to the throne in 1830. 'S. Raven' was Samuel Raven, a painter who worked in Birmingham and specialized in painting such miniatures to decorate small boxes made in papier-mâché. At first he had worked for a manufacturer of papier-mâché, but by the time he decorated this box he was buying in blanks, decorating them and selling them himself.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Snuffbox
  • Lid
Materials and Techniques
Papier-mâché, decorated with black japanning and oil paint
Brief Description
Circular snuffbox of black papier-mâché, with the lid depicting a portrait of George IV. English, ca. 1825-30.
Physical Description
A circular snuffbox of papier-mâché, with a lift-off lid, the whole japanned black and the lid decorated overall with a miniature of George IV, following a portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence. The lid is inscribed twice with the maker's name and the underside with the name of 'The Union', a public house for which it was made
Dimensions
  • Height: 4cm
  • Diameter: 13.5cm
Dimensions taken from departmental catalogue. Not checked on object
Credit line
Gift of Mr. Philip A.S. Phillips through The Art Fund
Object history
This was almost certainly made for and/or used in the Commercial Room of The Union public house in Birmingham. In 1825 The Union was taken by J. Machin, the landlord of The White Horse. The Union was in Cherry Street and was built in 1790. It was pulled down in the late 19th century in the course of the Corporation Street improvement scheme. Machin was landlord until 1856 at least (note in departmental catalogue from information from the Acting Chief Librarian of Birmingham Public Library, based on the publication Old Taverns of Birmingham by Ebenezer Edwards, 1879.
Historical context
The portrait of George IV on this box was copied from an original by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the collection of the Duke of Clarence. Other examples are signed 'S. Raven Pinxt Patronised by H.R. the Duke of Sussex and Prince Leopold'. In 1828 the address of S. Raven is given in directories as 28 Batholomew Street, Birmingham (see notes in 'The Connoisseur' by F.G. Roe and Herbert R. Dear respectively - Vol 71, 1925, pp. 39-40 and Vol 72, 1926. p. 167).



This may have been made for and/or used in the Commercial Room of The Union public house in Birmingham. In that year The Union was taken by J. Machin, the landlord of The White Horse. The Union was in Cherry Street and was built in 1790. It was pulled down in the late 19th century in the course of the Corporation Street improvement scheme. Machin was landlord until 1856 at least (note in departmental catalogue from information from the Acting Chief Librarian of Birmingham Public Library, based on the publication 'Old Taverns of Birmingham' by Ebenezer Edwards, 1879.
Subject depicted
Summary
This snuffbox is clearly too big to have been used by an individual. An inscription on the underside of the lid reads 'J. Machin / Union / Commercial Room / S. Raven Pinxt'. J. Machin was the landlord of a pub called The Union in Cherry Street, Birmingham from 1825. This must have been bought for his 'Commercial Room', where salesmen, clerks and others working in city offices and shops would have met. The portrait of George IV on the lid was presumably chosen as a patriotic gesture and suggests that the box was made before William IV came to the throne in 1830. 'S. Raven' was Samuel Raven, a painter who worked in Birmingham and specialized in painting such miniatures to decorate small boxes made in papier-mâché. At first he had worked for a manufacturer of papier-mâché, but by the time he decorated this box he was buying in blanks, decorating them and selling them himself.
Collection
Accession Number
W.57&A-1928

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record createdAugust 31, 2004
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