Snuff Box thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery

Snuff Box

1791 (hallmarked)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
The essential ingredient of snuff is powdered tobacco. A pinch of snuff is held to the nose and sharply inhaled. Throughout the 18th century the snuff box was a fashionable accessory for the well-dressed man, a partner to his sword, his watch and his buckles. Boxes were made of many materials, ranging from horn and tortoiseshell to porcelain, silver and gold.

People
James Kennedy, boxmaker, was apprenticed in Dublin in 1761, and worked in the same city at 17 Exchange Street from 1784 to 1801. He died in 1803.

Materials & Making
Bright-cutting is a distinctive technique which was particularly popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. An engraving tool is used to gouge out a large chunk of metal, which, when clean, flashes the light back at the viewer. When the cuts are tarnished, the contrast between the blackness of the cuts and the clean silver is no less effective. On this box the semi-oval cuts are placed in an oval pattern to echo the shape of the box.

Much use is also made on this box of wrigglework - made by twisting an engraving tool from side to side as it is pushed forward. The wrigglework follows the bright-cutting and creates undulating lines around the side of the box.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silver, with engraved decoration, including borders of bright-cut engraving
Brief Description
Irish snuff box
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.3cm
  • Width: 4.3cm
  • Length: 8.3cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Engraved on the lid 'ML'
Gallery Label
British Galleries: The Adam style, like Palladianism a generation earlier, spread throughout the countries under British rule. This snuffbox was made in Dublin. Its pointed, oval shape, derived from ancient Greek and Roman cameos, is typical of Neo-classical design. The bright-cut engraving was especially popular for small silver items, such as spoons and boxes.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Mrs Edith M. Dunne
Object history
Made in Dublin by James Kennedy (active from 1761, died in 1803)
Summary
Object Type
The essential ingredient of snuff is powdered tobacco. A pinch of snuff is held to the nose and sharply inhaled. Throughout the 18th century the snuff box was a fashionable accessory for the well-dressed man, a partner to his sword, his watch and his buckles. Boxes were made of many materials, ranging from horn and tortoiseshell to porcelain, silver and gold.

People
James Kennedy, boxmaker, was apprenticed in Dublin in 1761, and worked in the same city at 17 Exchange Street from 1784 to 1801. He died in 1803.

Materials & Making
Bright-cutting is a distinctive technique which was particularly popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. An engraving tool is used to gouge out a large chunk of metal, which, when clean, flashes the light back at the viewer. When the cuts are tarnished, the contrast between the blackness of the cuts and the clean silver is no less effective. On this box the semi-oval cuts are placed in an oval pattern to echo the shape of the box.

Much use is also made on this box of wrigglework - made by twisting an engraving tool from side to side as it is pushed forward. The wrigglework follows the bright-cutting and creates undulating lines around the side of the box.
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.89-1952

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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