Oval green snuffbox once owned by Frederick the Great of Prussia, about 1755. Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.412-2008

Oval green snuffbox once owned by Frederick the Great of Prussia, about 1755. Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.412-2008

Oval green snuffbox once owned by Frederick the Great of Prussia
Probably Jean Guillaume George Kruger
Germany
About 1755
Chrysoprase, gold, diamonds, hardstone and foil
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.412-2008

It is recorded that Frederick owned eight green chrysoprase snuffboxes and that this one was presented by Frederick to his brother Augustus Wilhelm. The design is probably by Jean Guillaume George Kruger, a London trained designer who moved to Berlin in 1753 and designed a series of snuffboxes in the Prussian royal collection.

This oval snuffbox is made from chrysoprase, a gemstone variety of chalcedony (a fibrous form of quartz) that contains small quantities of nickel that was used extensively in Europe until the middle of the last century. The box and cover are carved from single pieces of chrysoprase and are set with diamond, gold and hardstone scrolls, vines and flowers. The diamonds have pink, green and yellow foil placed behind them to reflect light. The sides and the base are similarly applied with relief hardstones and gems.

Chrysoprase was a particular favourite stone of Frederick the Great of Prussia. It used to be mined in Silesia, then a part of Prussia, but fell out of favour once the Silesian deposits were exhausted. Today, most of the world's supply of chrysoprase comes from Australia.