waxantiques

Gold & Silver Boxes

Browse our collection of Small Antique Silver Boxes including Vinaigrettes, Novelty, Snuff and Tobacco Boxes, Nutmeg Graters

Vinaigrettes, popular from the late 18th century through the end of the 19th century, were small containers used for holding various aromatic substances, usually dissolved in vinegar. A tiny piece of sponge, soaked in the liquid, was contained beneath a grill or perforated cover. Ladies used to carry a vinaigrette with them to combat the aroma from the waste products common in cities. Likewise, the practice of wearing tight corsets also regularly caused a woman to faint, requiring the need to carry smelling salts.

Snuff boxes and Tobacco Boxes.
Tobacco. Tobacco was introduced into Europe circa 1580 however the first tobacco box, with the typical oval form and dome top pull off lid, did not appear until circa 1650. A smoker required a table to set out his “equipment” which included a long stemmed pipe and a pair of ember tongs.
Snuff. It is generally thought that snuff boxes, which were originally designed to be portable, had hinged lids to enable single handed use. The practice of grinding tobacco leaves to inhale the powder was first recorded in 1650 and it’s quick popularity created a demand for snuff boxes. The boxes were made in two sizes; personal boxes to fit in a waistcoat pocket which would hold a small quantity, enough for immediate consumption, and communal boxes made for table use. People of all social classes used these boxes when snuff was at its peak of popularity and the wealthy carried a variety of fancy snuff boxes in precious metals, with jewels, enamels and portrait miniatures. Boxes made for the poorer snuff takers were more ordinary; popular and cheap boxes were made in papier-mâché and even potato-pulp, which made durable boxes that kept the snuff in good condition. Even after snuff-taking ceased to be a general habit, the practice lingered among diplomats, doctors, lawyers and other professionals as well as members of professions where smoking was not possible, such as miners and print workers. Monarchs retained the habit of bestowing snuff-boxes upon ambassadors and other intermediaries as a form of honour.

Nutmeg Graters
Prior to the development of the nutmeg grater box in circa 1670, nutmeg was grated at the table using a steel grater. Early nutmeg graters were either heart shaped or teardrop form, of small size just large enough to contain a nutmeg. The box had two hinged lids, top and bottom, one side with the steel grater, the other containing the grated spice. Other early forms include the tubular variety with pull off lid and silver sleeve, and the rare silver mounted cowrie shell with strapwork mounted grater.
During the 18th century designs progressed to include both functional and very charming novelty and decorative varieties.
The use and manufacture of nutmeg graters was circa 1650-1865 (ref. Eric Delieb “Investing in Silver”) but the earliest fully marked boxes didn’t arrive before circa 1697. The nutmeg originated from the Indies and is mentioned in early literature as a fumigation against the plague.

read more

Gold & Silver Boxes

Browse our collection of Small Antique Silver Boxes including Vinaigrettes, Novelty, Snuff and Tobacco Boxes, Nutmeg Graters

Vinaigrettes, popular from the late 18th century through the end of the 19th century, were small containers used for holding various aromatic substances, usually dissolved in vinegar. A tiny piece of sponge, soaked in the liquid, was contained beneath a grill or perforated cover. Ladies used to carry a vinaigrette with them to combat the aroma from the waste products common in cities. Likewise, the practice of wearing tight corsets also regularly caused a woman to faint, requiring the need to carry smelling salts.

Snuff boxes and Tobacco Boxes.
Tobacco. Tobacco was introduced into Europe circa 1580 however the first tobacco box, with the typical oval form and dome top pull off lid, did not appear until circa 1650. A smoker required a table to set out his “equipment” which included a long stemmed pipe and a pair of ember tongs.
Snuff. It is generally thought that snuff boxes, which were originally designed to be portable, had hinged lids to enable single handed use. The practice of grinding tobacco leaves to inhale the powder was first recorded in 1650 and it’s quick popularity created a demand for snuff boxes. The boxes were made in two sizes; personal boxes to fit in a waistcoat pocket which would hold a small quantity, enough for immediate consumption, and communal boxes made for table use. People of all social classes used these boxes when snuff was at its peak of popularity and the wealthy carried a variety of fancy snuff boxes in precious metals, with jewels, enamels and portrait miniatures. Boxes made for the poorer snuff takers were more ordinary; popular and cheap boxes were made in papier-mâché and even potato-pulp, which made durable boxes that kept the snuff in good condition. Even after snuff-taking ceased to be a general habit, the practice lingered among diplomats, doctors, lawyers and other professionals as well as members of professions where smoking was not possible, such as miners and print workers. Monarchs retained the habit of bestowing snuff-boxes upon ambassadors and other intermediaries as a form of honour.

Nutmeg Graters
Prior to the development of the nutmeg grater box in circa 1670, nutmeg was grated at the table using a steel grater. Early nutmeg graters were either heart shaped or teardrop form, of small size just large enough to contain a nutmeg. The box had two hinged lids, top and bottom, one side with the steel grater, the other containing the grated spice. Other early forms include the tubular variety with pull off lid and silver sleeve, and the rare silver mounted cowrie shell with strapwork mounted grater.
During the 18th century designs progressed to include both functional and very charming novelty and decorative varieties.
The use and manufacture of nutmeg graters was circa 1650-1865 (ref. Eric Delieb “Investing in Silver”) but the earliest fully marked boxes didn’t arrive before circa 1697. The nutmeg originated from the Indies and is mentioned in early literature as a fumigation against the plague.

  • Circa 1580

     

    10187 Elizabeth I Antique Silver Bottle

    Sold

    A fantastic little collector’s item. A rare 16th century silver bottle, tiny size, probably for perfume oil or holy water. The detachable screw top contains a space inside for either a cork or dip stick. The body is finely engraved with hatched ornament typical of the mid to late 16th century. Weight 20 grams. Height 6.5cm (to the top), 4.3cm (to top of body). Base measures 3.2cm x 2.2cm. English. Circa 1580. Unmarked silver.

  • Circa 1600 - 1620

     

    10349 17th Century Antique Silver Pomander

    Reserved

    An intriguing piece of history contained in a small silver sphere. The antique silver pomander was worn round the neck or suspended from a belt and was intended to protect the wearer from sickness. The exterior of this example is hand engraved with royal portraits, probably English, based on engravings by Simon de Passe (c. 1595 – 6 May 1647). The screw top unturns to release six hollow, hinged segments to contain dried flowers, spices and scented oils. The interior is decorated with scroll and hatched engraving. A similar example formed part of the prestigious David Little collection. Weight 22 grams, less than 1 troy ounce. Height 3.9cm. Spread 5.6cm fully extended. Unmarked silver. Probably English. Circa 1600-20.

  • 1675

    Isaac Dighton

    9172 Antique Charles II Silver Boxes

    £6,950

    A very rare matching pair of early antique silver boxes of octagonal form, with pull off tops, dating from the reign of King Charles II. Sterling silver. Simple plain form with a large hand engraved crest within tied plumage, very typical of the date. Superb antique colour. At this date boxes of this type would have originally been part of an extensive toilet service. Total weight 239 grams, 7.6 troy ounces. Height 3.5 cm. Width of top 9 cm. London 1675. Maker Isaac Dighton, London.

  • Circa 1680

     

    9568 Antique Dutch Silver Marriage Box

    £9,500

    A 17th century silver gilt casket of traditional rectangular form. The domed top with swing handle is hand engraved with a bridal couple surrounded by birds and foliage. The body, standing on four ball feet, has a front locking catch in the form of a flower, and is hand engraved with old testament scenes. Initials to the front of the lid. Weight 162 grams, 5.2 troy ounces. Height 7.7cm. Length 8.5cm. Depth 5cm. Stamped underneath twice with a maker’s mark (anvil?) unidentified. Circa 1680.

  • Circa 1690

    Anthony Nelme

    9371 17th Century Antique Silver Boxes

    £3,750

    A pair of early English antique silver toilet jars with lift off lids. Plain octagonal form. The tops have a hand engraved armorial within plumage feathers, typical of the Charles II/James II period. These unusual miniature toilet jars are very charming. Superb antique colour. At this date boxes of this type would have originally been part of an extensive toilet service. Total weight 148 grams, 4.7 troy ounces. Height 6cm. Diameter of lid 3.8cm. Makers mark only for Anthony Nelme. Circa 1690. Sterling silver.

  • 1690

     

    9997 William & Mary Antique Silver Nutmeg Grater

    Sold

    A charming little late 17th century silver nutmeg grater of teardrop form, one side fitted with a serrated rasp. Each side has a hinged lid with stand-away hinge. Both covers are hand engraved with simple foliate decoration. Weight 29 grams, 0.9 troy ounce. Height 2.5 cm. Top 3.7 x 2.9 cm. Total spread across the covers 8.3cm. Unmarked silver. English. Circa 1690.

  • Circa 1690

     

    10333 17th Century Antique Silver Nutmeg Grater

    Sold

    An attractive little collector’s item. A silver nutmeg grater of cylindrical form, the tube containing a steel grater. The pull off lid is hand engraved with the Tudor rose and the tube has the hatched decoration typical for small silver objects dating back to the final quarter of the 1600’s. Silver weight 14g, about half a troy oz. Length 6.1cm. Diameter 2cm. Maker mark I.I. English circa 1690. Sterling silver.

  • 1740

     

    9957 George II Antique Silver Cashew Box

    £675

    An attractive little antique sterling silver cashew box, or silver snuff box, of heart shaped design. Original gilt finish. The embossed lid decoration shows a young man playing a lute with a putto in the background. Weight 40 grams, 1.2 troy ounces. Height 2.5cm. Top measures 6 x 5cm. London 1740. Maker “LM”. Sterling silver.

  • Circa 1750

     

    9674 Antique Silver Perpetual Calendar Snuff Box

    Sold

    An 18th century silver snuff box with rotating dials to both sides. Very charming and retains the interior gilding. The panels have scrolled flower and chased decoration. The top side has the rotatable “Calendarium Perpetuum” which shows the days of the week (in old German script, and marked with their planetary signs) against days of the month. The reverse side has seven readout windows described by the headings on the rotatable disk (in old German script) – 1) month of the year with its number of days, 2) the important saints’ and feast days in the month, 3) sun’s Zodiacal position (represented by amusing little hand engraved zodiac symbols), 4) length of day, 5) length of night, 6) time of sun rise, and 7) time of sunset. A good example in very good condition. 126 grams, 4 troy ounces. Length 8.4cm. Width 5.5cm. Height 2cm. German. Probably 18th century circa 1750. Unmarked silver.

  • 1769

    William & Aaron Lestourgeon

    10282 George III Antique Silver Box

    £795

    An attractive antique silver toilet box of plain cylindrical form with pull off lid and reeded rims. The top is hand engraved with a stag crest. Useful size suitable as a jewellery box or for cuff links. Weight 231 grams, 7.4 troy ounces. Height 4.7cm. Diameter 10.1cm. London 1769. Maker William & Aaron Lestourgeon. Sterling silver. 18th century.

  • 1854

    Yapp & Woodward

    9838 Antique Silver Table Snuff Box

    £2,750

    A magnificent antique sterling silver box of military interest. Substantial size and weight. Original gilt interior. Crisp cast borders and engine turned decoration to the sides and base. The top bears a regimental inscription. This box is likely to have been used in the Officer’s Mess for the Loisel Regiment of Militia. Weight 572 grams, 18.3 troy ounces. Height 5.5cm. Top measures 12.5cm x 9.3cm. Birmingham 1854. Maker Yapp & Woodward. Sterling silver.

  • Circa 1860

     

    9624 Antique Scottish Silver Snuff Mull

    Sold

    An antique horn snuff mull with a broad silver mount embossed with thistles. The hinged lid is inset with a large citrine gemstone. Spread 14.5 cm. Diameter 6.5 cm. Unmarked silver. Probably Scottish circa 1860.

  • 1870

    John Brashier

    9318 Victorian Silver Vinaigrette

    Sold

    Possibly of military interest. A rare barrel shaped antique silver vinaigrette with combination scent bottle and pill box. The vinaigrette has a pretty pierced gilt grill. The quality of this piece is exceptional; the scent flask having a screw lid with integral carrying chain, the two boxes retain their original bright gilt interior. Weight 58 grams, 1.8 troy ounce. Height 5 cm. Width 5 cm. London 1870. Maker “JB”, probably John Brashier. Sterling silver.

Keep up to date with our Latest Items and News on Early Silver

    Instagram