Sunday, August 14, 2005

Silver & Silverplate Snuff Boxes

The use of snuff, which is finely grated tobacco, became a pastime with both the rich and the poor years ago. It also created a need for snuffboxes. Snuffboxes soon became ornamental objects which could be carried in a pocket.

The long history of tobacco use has left us a plethora of silver collectibles, from large silver cigar holders to pocket size silver snuffboxes.

Some silver snuff boxes were intended to be carried in a gentleman's pocket. These silver snuff boxes usually had a hinged lid so one hand could be left free to take the snuff. Larger types of silver snuff boxes were made for side tables in the home. All snuff boxes had tight-fighting lids so that the fine powder could not escape.

The collector of the 21st century can find boxes made of silver and gold, but there were also boxes made of brass, pewter and even wood. Some were enameled on top, others had paintings and fewer had real jewels.

Snuff boxes in Sheffield plate were generally rectangular, although other shapes were also introduced. Tortoise shell was commonly used for linings, bases and covers. One way to distinguish between silver and Sheffield plate is the worn edges and corners on plate reveals the glow of copper.

Today's market realizes prices for snuff boxes in the range of $55 to as much as $4,950. Today's collector of antique snuff boxes might want to specialize in silver. Many of the silver boxes go back as far as as the early 1800's and they can be a collector's delight.

Although Abe Silverman's Anitque Silver Shop does not currently carry antique and silver snuff boxes, we will be listing antique silverplate lighters this week in our Silver Holloware section.