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Snuffbox

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1800-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, bloodstone, diamonds, rubies, emerald, sapphires, topazes

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.521-2008

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Snuff was a form of powdered and scented tobacco which was fashionable throughout 18th century Europe. Snuff was not intended to be smoked - a pinch of snuff was usually sprinkled on the back of the hand and then inhaled. Gold snuff boxes became some of the paraphernalia associated with snuff taking; they were also used as important diplomatic gifts and were often presented as rewards by grateful monarchs. Goldsmiths, stone polishers, enamel painters and miniaturists collaborated to create snuffboxes, each one a masterpiece of sumptuous decoration and design. This snuffbox is richly decorated with precious stones in the form of martial and musical trophies.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

Rectangular snuffbox comprising six panels of bloodstone encrusted with martial and musical trophies in precious stones mounted in varicoloured gold, chased with flowers, foliage and ribbons, with jewelled floral thumbpiece set with central emerald.

Place of Origin

Germany (probably, made)

Date

1800-1900 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold, bloodstone, diamonds, rubies, emerald, sapphires, topazes

Marks and inscriptions

Imitation marks used in France under the ancien régime

Imitation of the charge mark for the sous-fermier

Dimensions

Length: 7.6 cm, Width: 5.8 cm, Height: 3.6 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Dr. E.W. Berlin, sale, Ball & Graupe, Berlin, 26-27 February, 1932, lot 472, ill. pl. 29. The Property of a European Private Collector, sale, Christie's, Geneva, 14 November , 1995, lot 57. S.J.Phillips, London.

Descriptive line

Gold, bloodstone, set with diamonds, rubies, emerald, sapphires, topazes, Germany, 1800-1900

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, volume II, London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd., 1999, cat. no. 25, p. 47. ISBN.0856675210

Materials

Gold; Blood-stone; Diamond; Ruby; Emerald; Sapphire; Topaz

Techniques

Chasing; Mounting; Setting; Stone setting

Subjects depicted

Foliage; Ribbons; Flowers; Trophies (motif)

Categories

Accessories; Containers; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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