The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff bottle
  • Snuff bottle
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • London, England
  • c. 1660 - 1680
  • Gilt brass, gold and shagreen over wood, piqué
  • Height: 8.9 cm
    Width: 5.3 cm
    Weight: 0.095 kg
  • Inscription: 'CR'
    Inscription: 'HONI · SOIT · QVI · MAL · Y ·PENSE'
  • G70
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This pear-shaped flask, or snuff bottle, is covered in black shagreen (skin from a shark’s belly). The crowned monograms CR and the Oder of the Garter on the flask suggest that it once belonged to King Charles II (reigned 1660-85). At one time it was thought to have been a miniature powder flask, or primer, perhaps for the young Prince Charles, but it lacks any sort of spout that would have been necessary to prime a gun, and the initials clearly include the letter R for Rex. It is known that in England in the seventeenth century shagreen containers, in the shape of bottles and decorated with gold studs, perhaps like this one, were intended to take snuff and not only Charles II but also his close intimates such as the Duke of Lauderdale enjoyed snuff-taking.