Snuff Box

ca. 1805 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.

Commemoration
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.

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


object details
Categories
Object Type
Brief Description
Nelson snuff box
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.6cm
  • Diameter: 7.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Inscribed with the victories of Admiral Lord Nelson
  • 'M&P FECIT'
Gallery Label
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)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Miss Ethel Gurney
Object history
Signed 'M&P FECIT'

Made in England
Summary
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.

Commemoration
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.

Design
Circular snuff boxes, like this one, came into fashion towards the end of the 18th century.
Collection
Accession Number
M.221-1939

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL