Antique Snuffboxes: Simple Sophistication...

By: Carly Hill - Staff Writer • Oct 19, 2012 • 0 Comments

Featured today is this 18th century French Cesar Bagard snuffbox, circa 1700.  The box is made of French olive wood and is intricately carved.  The box was made by Cesar Bagard in Nancy, France and is available here, compliments of T. Reggiardo Antiques.  

In 17th century England, sniffing a pinch of snuff was the thing to do.  Snuff is made by grounding up tobacco leaves, with the intent of inhaling, rather than smoking.  In most cases, snuff is flavored with mint, florals and other spices.

In history, snuff has been observed to be used by Haitian natives, as recorded by Spanish Monk, Ramon Pane, present on Columbus’ second journey to the Americas.  In the 1500s, it was recorded that snuff was used to treat persistent migraines.  After some time, objections to the practice arose.  Pope Urban VII excommunicated church members for doing snuff.  In 17th century Russia, Tsar Michael would cut off one’s nose for using snuff.  But, despite the controversy, snuff’s popularity continued to spread – even as far as China.

By the 18th century, snuff separated the elite from the lower class.  Lower class people smoked tobacco, while Kings, Queens, and the Pope inhaled snuff.  So, today’s fancy shmancy cigar case would be like yesterday’s ornamented snuffbox.  A snuffbox was a valuable gift to give.  Lids were often decorated with flowers and allegories – using paint, jewelry, gold, precious stones, silver, wood, brass, tortoise shell, you name it!

Nowadays, smoking cigars and cigarettes is more commonplace than using snuff, but with the recent laws, prohibiting indoor smoking in many states, snuff has regained some popularity. 

An antique snuffbox still makes a great gift to someone who does partake, but it is also a beautiful statement piece to have on display in your home.  It is a small antique that exudes class and sophistication.

We are just entering the cusp of the holiday season, but it’s never too early to start searching for special trinkets for your special someones.  Take a look at some other miscellaneous treasures, right here at Latique Antiques!