The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Possibly Louis Regnard (active between: 1773 - before 1769) , Goldsmith
  • Paris, France
  • 1752 - 1753
  • Papier maché (?), metal foil, shellac varnish, oil paint, turtleshell and gold
  • Object size: 4 x 8.3 x 6.4 cm
    Weight: 111.1 g
  • Maker's mark: Mark of unidentified Paris goldsmith that includes 'L' and 'R'. The device is not visable.
    Warden's mark: 'M' of the Maison Commune mark for gold, Paris, 15 July 1752 - 10 July 1753.
    Charge mark: A head of an ox, for the sous-fermier Julien Berthe, 1 October 1750 - 1 October 1756.
    Discharge mark: A head of a hen, for the sous-fermier Julien Berthe, 1 October 1750 - 1 October 1756.
    Mark: Defaced
  • G18
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This rectangular snuff box is made from papier-mâché covered in probably gold (though possibly silver) foil, which has been stamped with a trellis and scrolls and foliage along the border. It has then been varnished with gold coloured shellac (a resin secreted by the female Lac beetle), to give the impression of a gold snuffbox with enamel images. The images of birds have been painted on in oils. The thumb piece is gold and the inside of the box is lined with turtleshell.

    The author Diderot in his Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers [Encyclopaedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts] refers to this type of box as tabatière en carton [snuffbox in cardboard], where he mentions in great detail the manufacture of the boxes using papier-mâché and varnishes. Although this box would have appealed to many in the 18th century, the material used, and the relatively small amount of precious material used suggests that it might have been bought by the less wealthy members of society.

    Snuffboxes played an important role in fashion and self-promotion, in diplomacy and, in the 19th century, in collecting. Often they were used as a currency for their monetary values and the status they could embody. Their practical purpose was often secondary – they were highly valued as art objects in their own right. Gold boxes were a barometer of the taste of the time and exemplify the skills of not only goldsmiths, but also enamellers, lapidaries and miniature painters.