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Snuff rasp

Snuff rasp

  • Place of origin:


  • Date:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved boxwood with metal grater

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Although tobacco was introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century, the way in which it was used differed greatly from modern habits. A fine tobacco powder known as snuff was inhaled from the back of the hand or the fingertips. Dried tobacco leaves were generally sold in tightly bound bundles, and, although commercially produced snuff was available, many snuffers preferred to make their own. Snuff rasps like this one were developed to be conveniently carried in a pocket so that a portion of snuff could be prepared at any time by grinding a bundle of dried tobacco leaves on the metal grater or rasp. This snuff rasp incorporates a snuff-box to hold any excess produced.

Snuff-taking was an expensive habit and could only be afforded by the well-to-do, with the result that snuff-related objects, like rasps and boxes are often made from precious materials like ivory, and are beautifully decorated with carving or inlay. This French example, dated 1739, is made from boxwood and carved on the reverse with a design of twining flowers and foliage.

Physical description

Carved boxwood snuff rasp with metal grater, decorated on the reverse with leafy scrollwork and dated 1739 on hinged lid to snuff box.

Place of Origin




Materials and Techniques

Carved boxwood with metal grater

Marks and inscriptions

Carved on cover of snuff box at top end of grater.


Length: 6.25 in, Width: 2.25 in


Boxwood; Metal


Hand carving


Personal accessories


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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