The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Paris, France
  • 1768 - 1775
  • Gold, ivory, turtleshell, glass and gouache, piqué painted, chased and engraved
  • Length: 7.6 cm
    Height: 3.2 cm
    Weight: 114.3 g
    Diameter: 6.6 cm
  • Maker's mark: Illegible
    Charge mark: for fermier Julien Alaterre, (1768-75)
    Discharge mark: for fermier Julien Alaterre (1768-75)
    Date mark: 'I' for 1772-3 or 'J' for 1773-74
    Mark: head in a turban
  • G48
  • Reserve Gallery
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Although extremely decorative and made from 20.25 carat gold and turtleshell, this box would not have been as expensive when it was made as some of the other boxes on display here. It uses less gold, being made from turtleshell that has been applied with bands of gold, rather than being made by constructing a gold box and applying ornament to that, and would have been aimed at the less wealthy levels of society in eighteenth-century France. The gouache miniature on ivory would have been valued more greatly than the box onto which it is set.
    Boxes without hinges are today frequently referred to as bonbonnières, normally circular boxes used to contain sweetmeats to freshen the breath. However, the term does not seem to occur before about 1770, before when they were referred to as ‘boîte à bonbons’ (sweet boxes).