Snuff Box

Snuff Box
Snuff Box
London, ca. 1750-1760
Gift from Curtis M. Scribner
and J. Hartwell Harrison, MD
Inlaid with tracery of gilt brass, this tortoise-shell box was made in London, circa 1750-1760. It originally belonged to Betty Washington Lewis and descended in the Lewis family from mother to daughter for over five generations.

Ornate little boxes such as this one often contained "snuff" or powdered tobacco. Snuff is made by selecting tobacco leaf and processing it into a coarse powder. Next, it is ground then sieved. Essential oils may be added for flavoring, after which, it is stored in an airtight container to allow the flavor to permeate uniformly. Both men and women inhaled snuff through the nose and then sneezed into a handkerchief. This ritual and its paraphernalia were considered extremely fashionable in the 18th century.

The box is on display in the Bissell Gallery at Kenmore.