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Snuff box

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Snuff box

Probably Battersea, England

1760-1790 1 1/2 in x 2 in x 1 1/2 in Enamel on copper, brass

Historic Odessa Foundation, The David Wilson Mansion, Inc.


Ex coll. Mrs. E. Tatnall (Mary Corbit) Warner

Taking snuff, a refined tobacco product of selected and specially cured leaves, finely cut, and often scented with perfumes, herbs, spices, or wines, was inhaled through the nose.  The cost of snuff compared to smoking and chewing tobacco limited it to wealthy men and women.  Snuff boxes were part of the social ritual.  This engaging box shaped and painted like a Dalmatian associates it with gentlemen, who might have owned such a dog.  A small piece of paper written by Mrs. Warner about 1900 states that this snuff box was owned by Captain James Jefferis, father of Ann, who married David Wilson Jr. in 1808.

Baked enamel wares are generically called Battersea wares, named for the Battersea section of London where fine examples were made. The technique spread rapidly to other areas, notably Birmingham, Bilston, and South Staffordshire, and continued to be made well into the nineteenth century.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 223-224.