Let's call it a small, usually ornamented, box for holding snuff a scented, powdered tobacco. The practice of sniffing or inhaling a pinch of snuff was common in England around the 17th century and in the early 18th century.
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It became widespread in other countries, when the demand for decorated snuffboxes, which were considered valuable gifts, increased. Some were small enough to fit in a waistcoat pocket, and others were larger.
All gave 17th and 18th century craftsmen an dating antique boxes to execute rich and elaborate designs. Snuffboxes reflected the art and craft of the painter of miniatures, the enameller, the jeweller, the goldsmith and silversmith. Lids were often decorated with Chinoiserie note 1 or other typical 18th-century, subject matter, such as allegories and flowers.
Whilst more expensive items were made of Gold and Silver, less expensive items were made of horn, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl or wood. I am particularly interested in snuff boxes where the design identifies a manufacture in this period.
So how do we go about dating them? The lack of full hallmarking may well suggest that, rather than dating antique boxes made in an established silversmith's workshop in a large town or city, these might have been made by Provincial or itinerant silversmiths for the local gentry.
Most of the box lids were decorated with silver or gold pique work note 2 which occasionally extended to the side and base.
They were mainly oval in shape, sometimes rectangular, occasionally round, but the one thing they seemed to have in dating antique boxes in the late 17th century, say fromwas a "stand-away" hinge. By this, I mean a hinge by which the lid was secured to the body with studs, rivets or screws see the photos below but where the barrel of the hinge stands away from the body of the box.
The "stand-away" hinge appears to have evolved over a period of around datings antique boxes into https://gfmeetlove.info/category19/w283.php where the hinge becomes an integral part of the body of the box, being soldered to the side.
To summarise, it would appear that dating these boxes might seem haphazard, but it really comes down to a question of the design, the pattern of decoration and recognition of the style of hinge.
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