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Snuff box

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1820-1880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved mahogany (probably), brass piqué work (small holes drilled into the wood to hold pieces of metal wire).

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Messrs Harrods Ltd.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Snuff, or powdered tobacco, was widely popular throughout Europe from the 17th century. Sniffed from the back of the hand, from pinched fingers or from a spoon, snuff was enjoyed on social occasions and would be placed on the table or passed around a group. Thousands of small portable boxes to contain the powder, were made as personal accessories, often in novel designs, to be given as gifts.

Shoe and boot shaped snuff boxes were made throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Shoes have long been associated with love and marriage and were often given for good luck. This carved wooden shoe-shaped snuff box is decorated with brass studs and piqué work forming floral motifs, 'buttons' and 'stitching'. The top of the shoe is hollowed to hold the snuff and a piece of sliding wood forms the lid. The size and weight of this box, as well as its loose lid suggest it was meant to be used as tableware rather than carried on one's person. It is one of a pair of identical boxes perhaps made to be used either end of a dining table.

Physical description

Snuff box of carved wood decorated with brass piqué work. One of a pair.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1820-1880 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved mahogany (probably), brass piqué work (small holes drilled into the wood to hold pieces of metal wire).


Length: 10.5 cm heel to toe, Height: 4 cm heel to lid

Historical context note

Part of the Messrs Harrods gift

Descriptive line

Snuff box in the form of a shoe, England, 1800-1900

Lid of a shoe-shaped snuff box, England, 1800-1900


Brass; Mahogany


Carving; Piqué work; Carving


Tableware & cutlery; Woodwork; Smoking accessories; Personal accessories


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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