Ephemeritor
              Antiques & Collectibles

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Snuff Box English Silver ''ribbed'' design rocker box. Gilt interior. Circa 1800.

SKU: Snuff Box, Silver Rocker $189.95
The Snuff Box is now largely a relic of the once popular practice of taking snuff. At one time, this tiny decorative but utilitarian box was an indispensable accessory for every man of birth and breeding from the 18th century through the early 20th century. Artisans, such as the jeweler and the enameller bestowed infinite pains upon this object, which was as much a delicate bijou as a piece of utility. Gentlemen of quality, fops and dandies possessed a great variety of snuff boxes, some of which were quite rich in detail, with frames of gold encased with diamonds. Other boxes were more ordinary, made with potato-pulp, the cheapest wood available. Other popular materials used in making these boxes include: Tortoise-shell, Mother-of-Pearl, Silver, Gold, Enamels, Diamonds and other precious stones. The lids were often adorned with a portrait, a classical vignette, portrait miniature, hardstone inlays, or micromosaic panel. Some of the most expensive just used subtly different colors of gold. Even after snuff taking ceased to be popular in general, the practice lingered among diplomats. Monarchs retained the habit of bestowing snuff boxes upon ambassadors and other intermediaries as a form of honor. As Talleyrand explained, the diplomatic corp. found a ceremonious pinch to be a useful aid to reflection in a business interview. We may trace much of modern lavishness in the distribution of decorations to the cessation of snuff taking. Having a monarch invite one to take a pinch from his snuff box was a mark of distinction that was almost equivalent to having onea's ear pulled by Napoleon. At the coronation of George IV of England, Messrs. Rundell and Bridge, the court jewelers, were paid 8,205 pounds sterling for snuff boxes as gifts to foreign representatives. Today snuff boxes are collected at many levels a'' at the top of the market they tend to be called agold boxesa The most expensive are French and German 18th century examples, and the record auction price for a German box is about $1.3 million U.S. paid in 2003 at Christiea's Auction in London.