Collect antique snuff boxes - a habit not to be sniffed at WriteAntiques.com aims to introduce folks to the joys of collecting. It is authored by Christopher Proudlove, who has been writing about antiques and auctions since 1979.
This week: snuff boxes.
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - Tzar Michael of Russia was not impressed with the fashion. In 1634, he issued a degree to the effect that anyone caught engaging in the habit of taking snuff would get a strict warning to desist. Anyone caught a second time would have his nose cut off!
In 1823, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) observed sniffily that taking snuff was "perhaps the final cause of the human nose". In his day he was probably right.
The practice of inhaling powdered tobacco became common in Europe in the 17th century and universally among both sexes throughout the 18th. It continued in the 19th century and there are, no doubt, still many adherents. The result is a plethora of snuff boxes to suit pockets of all depths available for collectors like us to search out and hoard.
And for snuff takers who like to dispense the largesse following a good meal, there's the snuff mull, the name given to the large snuff boxes which were intended to sit on a table or sideboard for use by the assembled dinner guests.
The picture shows a William IV fox mask snuff box by Joseph Wilmore, Birmingham 1835, estimated at £1,500-2,000.
For more on antique snuff boxes, go to www.writeantiques.com.