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Snuff box

Snuff box

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1820-1880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved mahogany, 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, pinched fingers or from a spoon, snuff taking was enjoyed at 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. Decoration varied from the most expensive in jewelled gold and silver, to much more modest boxes, such as this, carved in wood.

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 mahogany snuff box is decorated with brass piqué work taking the form of a heart on the front and on the sole of the shoe, so it may well have been given as a love token. The top has been hollowed out to form a container covered by a sliding lid. The size, weight and materials of this box made it easily portable.

Physical description

Snuff box of carved mahogany decorated with with brass piqué work in the form of a heart.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1820-1880 (made)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

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


Length: 13 cm heel to toe, Height: 5.5. cm heel to lid

Historical context note

Part of Messrs Harrods gift

Descriptive line

English 1800-1900

English 1800-1900


Brass; Mahogany


Carving; Piqué work


Personal accessories; Woodwork; Smoking accessories; Containers


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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