Snuff boxes

The consumption of snuff or powdered tobacco rapidly increased in the Seventeenth Century and by the beginning of the Eighteenth Century it was acceptable for even ladies to inhale and became the approved tobacco product favoured by nobility.

By the late Seventeenth Century, ornate boxes were being produced to keep the snuff dry. As the trend for snuff flourished throughout Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Europe, so too did the elaborate enamel decorations of the snuff box.

Snuff boxes became major (often bespoke) essential, personal possessions made in a variety of materials, from gold and silver to tortoiseshell or horn. Small boxes were made for the pocket and larger, communal boxes were made for table use. Shapes were not only limited to simple rectangles. Porcelain containers resembling trunks were common, as were ovals. Some were even designed in the shape of shells.

Intricate enamel decorations adorned the most precious and desirable snuff boxes, depicting everything from miniature landscapes and bucolic scenes, to tiny portraits or grisaille cameos of their owners. Some of the most distinguished snuff boxes were the French tabatières, which were made from gold and set with diamond, amethysts and sapphires.

The Antique Enamel Company stocks a huge variety of snuff boxes that were manufactured all over Europe and Russia and range from the elaborate bejewelled pieces from the noblest echelons of society to the more affordable, but nonetheless beautiful and important boxes created for the more modest snuff taker.