West Midlands, England
Enamelled copper with chased gilt-metal mounts
Museum no. C.470-1914
This box was almost certainly a portable container for snuff. Snuff was formed from feremented tobacco mixed with various combinations of perfumed oils, herbs or spices into a compressed block, which was then grated to make a fine powder ready for inhalation. English painted enamel boxes with hinges linking lids to bases were a phenomenon of the 1740s.
The hinged enamel box came about because there was a demand for boxes which could be held open in one hand while taking a pinch of snuff with the other. The fashion for snuff-taking was at its height in the 18th century. Each panel of this box is deftly painted with groups of fruit and vegetables.