The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • probably Dresden, Germany
  • c. 1750
  • Agate, gold and silver, diamond, chiselled and gilded
  • Object size: 4.2 x 7.3 x 7 cm
    Weight: 176.5 g
  • G12
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The use of the agate panels, and the treatment of the gold, both point towards Germany, probably Dresden, as the source of this box. The inclusion of a detachable inner lid is untypical of Parisian snuffboxes, but is frequently found in tobacco boxes. The inner lid would typically have prevented moisture from the tobacco evaporating, although this one is supported on gold pillars which would have negated this feature. Also, it is smaller than the conventional tobacco box, and it may be that it was a specially commissioned piece made to the unusual requirements of the patron. A small number of gold-covered pills, believed to date from the eighteenth century, have been found in the box which might suggest that it was used for medication and not tobacco. The composition of the pills remains a mystery.
    The charming entwined dolphins forming the handle of the inner lid are unlikely to be an allusion to a dauphin of France, as the use of dolphins had by this date become quite a common decorative motif. The box has no gold lining so the exquisite figuring of the pale translucent agate can be clearly seen.