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Snuff box

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1805 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stamped brass

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss Ethel Gurney

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 1

Object Type
This container held snuff, a form of powdered tobacco, which was pinched between the fingers and inhaled. Snuff-taking was popular in Britain from the late 17th century with both men and women. These small portable boxes were carried everywhere and freely used. Larger containers would be passed around the table after dinner. Early snuff boxes contained a grater to grate the blocks of compressed powdered snuff and spices, such as cloves and cinnamon, imported from the West Indies. By 1730 ready-grated snuff had dispensed with the need for a grater, but compartments were sometimes retained in order to carry two or more sorts of snuff.

Military and naval heroes were commemorated on snuff boxes from the mid 18th century. This snuff box was one of the earliest examples of the growing market for souvenirs of Admiral Lord Nelson.

Circular snuff boxes, like this one, came into fashion towards the end of the 18th century.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1805 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Stamped brass

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed with the victories of Admiral Lord Nelson



Height: 2.6 cm, Diameter: 7.5 cm

Object history note

Signed 'M&P FECIT'
Made in England

Descriptive line

Nelson snuff box

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The use of hard steel dies made possible the production of a variety of stamped goods, like this cheap commemorative box. [27/03/2003]


Containers; Personal accessories; A Year of Objects: October, Trafalgar Day


Metalwork Collection

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